This learning object uses an airplane landing application to practice using the arctangent to find the angle of decent.
Type of Material:
classroom demo; student practice
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
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 planes 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.
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
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.
The simulation is limited in that it only solves one type of triangle problem.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
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.
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.