Review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2016


Plot points, make graphs with basic but functional tool

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Teachers say (3 Reviews)
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6-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Kids can make a variety of graphs without an expensive graphing calculator.

Cons: It needs way more support in terms of tutorials and sample lesson plans.

Bottom Line: It's free, it's simple, and it does the job; you can plot functions, polar equations, parametrics, and points.

Teachers will love that all of the saved plots are considered public domain; they can be used to create worksheets, presentations, or assessments without copyright concerns. Teachers can also use FooPlot to provide inquiry opportunities for kids. Prior to learning about how a particular function looks and responds, give kids a chance to manipulate it using the Fooplot tools. Kids will be able to figure out for themselves how changing a function changes the graph. Give them prompts like, “What happens to the shape of the graph when you plot an even exponent as compared to an odd exponent?”

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FooPlot is a free online tool that lets kids plot functions, polar equations, parametric equations, and points. It's pretty simple to use; you can layer different graphs on top of each other, and a tool bar lets you find intersection points and roots. Other tools let students trace points on a graph, move it, and zoom in or out.

Once a plot is created, it can be exported as a PDF or other various file formats for later review. FooPlot could be used in middle and high school math classes ranging from pre-algebra to pre-calculus.  

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One of the best things about FooPlot: It allows kids to quickly see multiple representations of the same mathematical idea. They immediately see that if they change the equation, the plot changes too. There certainly aren't any of the bells and whistles featured in tools like Desmos or ExploreLearning Gizmos, but it's a serviceable tool that can be used in lieu of a graphing calculator. Most of the tools are easy to use, with the exception of the Zoom Box button, which doesn’t respond consistently.

As with any tool, there are limitations. FooPlot only finds the roots or intersections for some functions; it won't find them for polar plot types. Since FooPlot uses Newton’s method, it won't be able to find roots for certain functions, like those that exhibit fractal behavior or those you can’t differentiate.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

FooPlot isn’t flashy or fun –- it’s just a tool that makes graphs. If you have the need to make a graph, it'll be reasonably engaging, but overall it's missing relevance to really draw kids in.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Graphing is done quickly so that kids can focus on the concepts. Kids get to see immediate results when they change a parameter, which is helpful for getting a real understanding of the math involved.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

It's accessible in five different languages -- very cool. But it lacks tutorials and extensions that would help students use the tool to their best advantage.

Common Sense Reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 3 reviews) (3 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Caitlin M. , Other
Harpeth Hall School
Nashville, TN
Easy Online Graphing Tool Provides Visualization

Overall, I find FooPlot to be simple but extremely easy to use. In addition to the website, there is a Chrome extension. FooPlot is available in several languages including English, Spanish, Dutch, and more. All graphs made on FooPlot are public domain, meaning they can be used in online exercises, worksheets, lesson plans, etc.

Some great features of FooPlot include: customizing colors of individual graphs and graph elements, changing the grid spacing depending on the function, pan/zoom features for different viewing perspectives, and the ability to download or share graphs.

There is a large advertisement at the top of the screen, which may distract younger or less discerning students. FooPlot is also limited to basic functions (trig, hyperbolic, miscellaneous), but I think it would be extremely useful for math teachers in middle school and up.

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