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Mnemonic For Remembering Formulas for Sin, Cos, Tan

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Date: 05/15/98 at 19:00:31
From: Don Burd
Subject: Trigonometric ratios.

When I was in high school, my trigonometry teacher told us a story
that helped us remember the formulas for sin, cos, and tan. I have
forgotten the story. The punchline of the story was something about
the name Chief Sohcahtoa (SOH CAH TOA).

use it in my own classroom. Thank you.

Don Burd
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Date: 05/18/98 at 12:01:03
From: Doctor Pat
Subject: Re: Trigonometric ratios.

Don,

Here is the version I tell my students. It is sort of an accumulation
of add-ons that have come from year to year.

A young brave, frustrated by his inability to understand the geometric
constructions of his tribe's battle dress, kicked out in anger against
a stone and crushed his big toe. Fortunately, he learned from this
experience, and began to use study and concentration to solve his
problems rather than violence. This was especially effective in his
study of math, and he went on to become the wisest man of his tribe.
He studied many aspects of trigonometry; and even today we remember
many of the functions by his name. When he became an adult, the tribal
priest gave him a name that reflected his special nature -- one that
reminded them of his great discoveries and of the event which
changed his life. Because he was troubled throughout his life by the
problematic foot, he was constantly at the edge of the river, soaking
his aches in the cooling waters. For that behavior, he was named Chief
Soh Cah Toa.

OK, it's corny. Kids will hoot and boo, . . . and remember it.

Feel free to embellish this with your own personality, and eventually
it becomes YOUR story. Keep at it. These kinds of stories are part of
the culture of mathematics that give it some of its richness.

-Doctor Pat, The Math Forum
Check out our web site! http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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Associated Topics:
High School Trigonometry

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