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Peer Review

Interactive Airplane Landing - Application of Trigonometry

by David Shaheen


Overall Numeric Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Jan 19, 2008 by Mathematics
Overview: This learning object uses an airplane landing application to practice using the arctangent to find the angle of decent.
Type of Material: Simulation
Recommended Uses: classroom demo; student practice
Technical Requirements: A browser with shockwave player.
Identify Major Learning Goals: Practice finding an angle of a right triangle given the opposite and adjacent sides.
Target Student Population: Students in a trigonometry class.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Knowledge of the right triangle definition of the tangent function and the arctangent function

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: This activity shows an airplane and a triangle where the opposite side is the distance from the plane to the runway and the adjacent side is the plane’s altitude. The student must use the arctangent function to find the angle of descent. When the student hits the “submit” button, the plane descends at this angle and either hits the landing target, lands too short, or lands too far. The learning object is simple enough to focus on this one part of solving a triangle.
Concerns: There is no explanation of the relationship between the sides of a right triangle and the angle. If a student does not know how to work these types of problems, the student will have almost no chance of succeeding. The “Angle of Descent” would be the complement to angle A as depicted in the graphic. This is true unless specifically defined in the question

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The use of the airplane application is a clever way to explain this concept. An instructor can recommend this to the students to try at home, or can demo it as part of a lecture where the student can suggest landing angles.
Concerns: The simulation is limited in that it only solves one type of triangle problem.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: There are clear instructions of what the student is supposed to do. This activity is very simple, asking the student only to input the answer and hit the submit button.
Concerns: After the student has viewed the simulation and the computer reports success or failure, there is no way to try again other then to refresh the screen and start over. The answer must be given in terms of degrees (and not radians). This could be made more explicit.