Q&A #3605

Right Triangles - Trigonometry

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From: Tim G. (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Apr 11, 2000 at 15:53:23
Subject: Re: Right Triangles - Trigonometry

A great trig project is to launch model rockets and find the altitude of each
one. This is accomplished by measuring the angle of the flight. The entire
thing becomes an exercise in finding the altitude of right triangle. To
measure the angle have someone stand a set distance away from the launch site
(I use 150 feet) and they use a protractor turned upside down. They sight
along the top of the protractor (which is actually the bottom). As they
rotate the protractor up for the flight, the can measure the angle. By taking 
the tangent of the angle of flight and multiplying it by the distance away 
from the launch site, they are able to find the altitude of their rocket 
 It is a great project, hugely motivating, and can take a couple of weeks if 
they have to build the rocket themselves. This is a lot of fun, very 
mathematical, and shows a true use of trig.
 I found a digital protractor that I use now. We mount this to a tripod and
sight along the top of the protractor. This model measures to the tenth of a
degree. You can find out more information about the protractor from:

Kell-Strom Tool Co.

Good luck!

-Tim G., for the Teacher2Teacher service

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