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8.1: Exponent Properties Involving Products

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12

Learning Objectives

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Use the product of a power property.
  • Use the power of a product property.
  • Simplify expressions involving product properties of exponents.


Terms introduced in this lesson:

square, cube
factors of the base
product rule for exponents
power of a product
power rule for exponents

Teaching Strategies and Tips

Encourage students to review basic exponents in the chapter Real Numbers.

  • An exponent is a notation for repeated multiplication of a number, variable, or expression.
  • Exponents count how many bases there are in a product
  • Parentheses precede exponents in the order of operations.

Additional Examples:

Write in exponent form.

a. \begin{align*}(4)(4)(4)\end{align*}(4)(4)(4)

b. \begin{align*}(-7)(-7)(-7)(-7)\end{align*}(7)(7)(7)(7)

c. \begin{align*}(5w)(5w)(5w)\end{align*}(5w)(5w)(5w)

d. \begin{align*}t \cdot t \cdot t \cdot t \cdot t \cdot t\end{align*}tttttt

Encourage proper use of mathematical language:

  • \begin{align*}3^4\end{align*}34 is read as “three to the fourth power,” “three to the fourth,” or “three raised to the power of four.” The exponents \begin{align*}2\end{align*}2 and \begin{align*}3\end{align*}3 are special: \begin{align*}3^2\end{align*}32, “three squared” and \begin{align*}3^3\end{align*}33, “three cubed.”
  • \begin{align*}(3x)^3\end{align*}(3x)3 is read as “quantity \begin{align*}3x\end{align*}3x cubed.”
  • \begin{align*}-3^2\end{align*}32 is read as “opposite of three squared.
  • \begin{align*}(-3)^2\end{align*}(3)2 is read as “negative three squared”.

To check for conceptual understanding, ask students to translate the following into symbols.

  • Square negative two. Answer: \begin{align*}(-2)^2\end{align*}(2)2
  • Negative two squared. Answer: \begin{align*}(-2)^2\end{align*}(2)2
  • The opposite of two squared. Answer: \begin{align*}-2^2\end{align*}22

Allow the class to infer the product rule for exponents in Example 2.

  • “When you multiply like bases you add the exponents.”

Allow the class to infer the power rule for exponents in Example 6c.

  • “When you raise an exponent to an exponent, you multiply them.”

Combine exponent rules in Examples 6-9.

  • Suggest that students apply each rule one step at a time.
  • Order of operations must be followed at each step: evaluate exponents before multiplying. See Examples 6a, 6b, and 9.

Additional Examples:

Simplify the following expressions.

a. \begin{align*}(4x)(3x)^2\end{align*}(4x)(3x)2

Hint: Apply the exponent before multiplying.

b. \begin{align*}(5x^2 + (-2x)^2)^3\end{align*}(5x2+(2x)2)3

Hint: Simplify in the parentheses first.

c. \begin{align*}(4x)(3x)^2 + (5x^2 + (-2x)^2)^3\end{align*}(4x)(3x)2+(5x2+(2x)2)3

Hint: Simplify each term first.

Point out in Example 8 where the commutative property of multiplication is being used.

Error Troubleshooting

Use Examples 4 and 5 to point out two common errors:

  • Multiplying bases incorrectly (exponents are different). \begin{align*}2^4 \cdot 2^3 \neq 4^7\end{align*}242347.
However, \begin{align*}3^4 \cdot 2^4 = 6^4\end{align*}3424=64 because \begin{align*}3^4 \cdot 2^4 = (3 \cdot 2)^4 = 6^4\end{align*}3424=(32)4=64 (exponents are same).
  • Applying the product rule incorrectly (bases are different). \begin{align*}3^4 \cdot 2^3 \neq 6^7\end{align*}342367.

Remind students in Review Question 6 that even powers of negative numbers are positive. Try using a visual to show that negatives cancel in pairs:

\begin{align*}(-2)^6 = (-2)(-2)(-2)(-2)(-2)(-2)=\underbrace{(-2)(-2)}_{+4} \cdot \underbrace{(-2)(-2)}_{+4} \cdot \underbrace{(-2)(-2)}_{+4} = 64\end{align*}

General Tip: Occasionally, students forget that:

  • \begin{align*}\mathrm{negative} \times \;\mathrm{positive} = \mathrm{negative}\end{align*}
  • \begin{align*}\mathrm{negative} \times \;\mathrm{negative} = \mathrm{positive}\end{align*}

In Review Question 13, remind students that the exponent in \begin{align*}-2y^4\end{align*} does not apply to \begin{align*}-2\end{align*}. Therefore, \begin{align*}-2y^4\end{align*} is simplified.

Additional Examples:

a. Explain the difference between \begin{align*}4x^2\end{align*} and \begin{align*}(4x)^2\end{align*}.

b. Explain the difference between \begin{align*}-1^2\end{align*} and \begin{align*}(-1)^2\end{align*}.

Teachers are encouraged to survey the class for answers. Ask: What constitutes the base of an exponent?

General Tip: Encourage students to think about syntax before inputting an expression into a calculator.

  • \begin{align*}(-1)^2\end{align*} often gets inputted incorrectly as \begin{align*}-1^{\land}2\end{align*}.
  • \begin{align*}\left (\frac{2} {3}\right )^2\end{align*} can get inputted incorrectly as \begin{align*}2/3^{\land}2\end{align*}.

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Date Created:
Feb 22, 2012
Last Modified:
Aug 22, 2014
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