Google Sheets can do most of what can be done in traditional worksheets like Excel. It an be very useful for teachers and students to graph math problems like. Graphing equations like polynomials in a spreadsheet provides real world practical experience and use of technology in the classroom. We will be graphing the polynomial shown in the image below.
Go to Google Drive, click the New button and select Google Sheets.
Click on the Sheet title and give it a name.
Click on the first cell in the Sheet and type the letter x.
Click on the cell below or press the return key on the keyboard. We will be creating a set of x values that will be used in the Polynomial equation. Type -10 press the return key, type -9, and press the return key.
Google Sheets can help us enter the rest of the numbers. Select the two cells with the numbers and move the mouse cursor over the blue square in the lower right corner until it changes to a plus sign.
Drag the blue square down until we have a positive 10 value. Release the mouse periodically to see the values as they are created for each cell.
In cell B1 type the letter y and press the return key.
We are going to provide the formula for our equation in this cell. Type the equal sign followed by the first number in our equation.
The next part of the equation is the variable x. This variable is multiplied by five. To multiply these numbers type an asterisk. The asterisk is used to multiply numbers in spreadsheets and is found above the number 8 on most keyboards.
The value for x is in cell A2, the cell on the left. Click once on cell A2 or type the cell reference A2 into the formula. The cell reference is colored orange to inform us it is a cell reference.
The value of x in cell reference A2 is raised to the power of 4. Exponents are calculated by typing the Caret symbol. This symbol is above the number 6 on most keyboards. Type the Caret and the number 4.
Type the plus symbol, followed by the number five, an asterisk and the cell reference to A2 for the value of x
Type the Caret followed by 3 to raise the value to the power of 3.
Type the minus symbol, type the number 3, type an asterisk and reference cell A2.
Finish the formula by typing the plus symbol followed by the number 5, and press the return key.
Click once on the cell with the formula we just created. Click on the blue square in the lower right corner and drag it down to the last value for x.
To graph the Polynomials select the cells from A1 with the letter x to the last calculated value for y.
Click on the chart button in the button bar.
Click on the Chart types tab in the Chart Editor.
Scroll down and select the Scatter chart.
A preview of the graph will appear on the right. We need to customize this graph so it can be more useful.
Click on the Customization tab in the Chart Editor.
Change the chart title.
Click on the Legend options and select None.
Scroll down to features and place a checkmark on Maximize.
Scroll down to the Horizontal section, change the Min value to -20 and the Max value to 20. The values here will need to be changed to accommodate different data sets based on different equations.
Switch to the Vertical Axis.
Change the Min value to -3000. This value will need to be changed with different graphs that have different variables. The Min and Max values adjust the area of the graph that can be seen with different data sets.
Scroll down to the bottom and change the Trendline from None to Polynomial.
The Trendline will place a smooth Parabola above the data points for the equation. Click the Insert button.
The graph will be placed on the Sheet and it can be moved anywhere on the Sheet as needed.