Riemann Sum Activity Launch Pad

Desmos is the perfect outlet for creativity in graphing.  Students are engaged, concepts become clearer.  Desmos is everything you always wished a graphing calculator could be.  It’s dynamic, easy to use, and FUN!  And the graphs are just so incredibly beautiful.

If you haven’t tried it yet, head on over to teacher.desmos.com and try Custom Activity Builder.

Besides brainstorming ideas for creative activities, the one really time consuming part of creating an activity is making more complex graphing screens.

It is out of this desire for a quick start to the creation and design of an activity that I decided to start working on “launch pad” activities.  The idea is to make mini-activities where I’ve put together a somewhat complex graphing screen or two from which anyone can then develop a full-scale activity.

Here’s my first attempt:

Riemann Sum Activity Launch Pad



This launch pad has only 2 screens, but each can be duplicated to your heart’s content, and then adjusted to meet your needs. It features left and right-handed Riemann sums, with red rectangles below the x-axis and blue rectangles above.  You can easily change the bounds on the area you’re approximating by dragging the green points.   There is a slider to adjust how many rectangles, from 3 to 50.

Some ways you may want to adapt this to your own needs in the classroom:

  • adjust the bounds on n to allow for more than 50 rectangles
  • choose to hide or show the summation or the function
  • change the function to something you’d prefer
  • adapt it to show and calculate midpoint sums
  • add some slides with text and questions
  • make it into a discovery lesson
  • make it into a companion activity for a homework assignment


Click on the link above, then click on duplicate this activity.  This will allow you to change anything about it!


Happy graphing, everyone!


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