1) He made a table of values for a few fences:
Then, he turned to Maple. We had done a unit on linear systems and did a few questions on finding lines of best fit... so he used the Curve Fitting Tool to find the best fit parabola, then found the vertex of the parabola and hence the best area.
Then he found the vertex of the parabola by zooming:
Almost every other student did it the traditional way of setting up the equation, graphing and finding the vertex. I thought it was a nice bit of synthesis from the previous unit to approach it in this fashion!