Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"In the ______": Students Finding Trig in Their Environment

So, as I mentioned in a previous post, I've had my students build their own trig-tables this year and I must say that they are doing extremely well!  I was inspired by my amazing colleague, Amy Zimmer (http://zicker63.blogspot.com) to do this fun activity with my students.  The original document involved a scene set in a park (see below, original document found at: http://www.funmaths.com/worksheets/downloads/view.htm?ws0012_1.gif) and Amy thought that it would be cool to switch it up and have the students come up with their own scene.  In the woods, at the beach, in the kitchen, etc.

The requirement for the assignment was that they needed to create some sort of scene or scenario where they were setting up right triangles that they could solve for missing sides and angles.  Another requirement was that they needed to set up one problem that involved using the ratio altitude/base, one using altitude/hypotenuse, and one using base/hypotenuse, all given one acute angle and one of the side lengths in the ratio.  The fourth type of triangle they had to set up should have had both acute angles missing and given two side lengths, basically using inverse trig.  The fifth triangle did not have a requirement, they could repeat any of the other types of triangles (the wildcard).

I enjoyed seeing their work and seeing how creative they got.  The creation of the poster was essentially phase one of the activity and phase two was actually solving for all missing values of the triangle.  Students jumped right in to using their trig charts and did surprisingly well with the triangles that were missing their acute angles.  I really enjoyed seeing them do this because I think even high school students need to show their inner artist and get a little crafty sometimes.  I had them staple their work to the back of the poster and any student that worked on the poster had to submit a page of work.  I've included some of my favorites.  Thanks, Amy for the inspiration!  Enjoy!

From Amy Zimmer's Class:


  1. That cat-themed poster is going to give me nightmares.

    1. Indeed! It makes the "Next Realm" and life "Under the Sea" seem like a cakewalk!

  2. Dan, I don't think those giant cats hunting a chocolate bunny in a forest illuminated by a cat-faced sun is scary at all.
    I am much more haunted by the "In the Fridge". Every time I open my refrigerator now, I feel like there are acute triangles lurking amongst the food