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The Gutter Problem

Michael Mays and Laura Pyzdrowski

Michael Mays and
Laura Pyzdrowski

West Virginia University

[email protected]

[email protected]

The applet on this page is designed to guide students through an exploration that models the rectangular cross sectional area of a gutter as a function of the gutter height when the dimensions of the rectangle are varied. It would fit naturally in an algebra course as a supplemental activity to a unit on quadratic functions, or in a more advanced course as an illustration of mathematical modeling.


The applet was developed using JBuilder and the Mathematical Java Toolkit of Joe Yanik. Source code is available under the GPL. This work was supported by the NSF, CCLI project number 0339117.


  • Quadratic function exploration with a link to the related Quadratic Function graphing utility
  • Student questions and activities appropriate for an algebra course
  • Teacher's key to the student questions and activities
  • Additional teacher information explaining content standards and learning objectives


The applet is built using Java 1.4.2, and an appropriate browser plugin (the Runtime Environment is fine) might have to be installed before the applet will work.

Open The Gutter Problem in a new window

Michael Mays and Laura Pyzdrowski, "The Gutter Problem," Convergence (August 2010)