# Unit Circle Discovery

Teacher Instructions Adapted by Ashli Black from the work of Rhonda Davis who gave a presentation on her version at T3 2009 in Seattle, WA Supplies: Blank sheet, TI calculator, strip of paper (about 1 cm thick and at least as wide as the paper), and a copy of the worksheet for each group. Students will work: Individually or in pairs. I like pairs since one student can measure and the other can scribe the values onto the worksheet. Goals (in no particular order): Get the students used to listening to you for directions and identifying early which kids already have that skill and which will need a bit more chair monitoring (as in, you stand behind their chair to monitor them while talking). Introduction to trig as ratios that are concrete and true for every circle (and thus every triangle) and not some magical calculator button unhinged from reality. That “sin(30)” means you are asking for the ratio of the y-value of the right triangle that can be drawn in the circle to the radius of the circle (which is the hypotenuse of said right triangle). All triangles can have a circle drawn around them and all circles can have triangles drawn within them. I also like to emphasize how this type of pattern (that the ratio is the same over and over and over again at the same degree no matter the size of the circle/triangle) is part of what mathematics strives to describe and the thing that math does a great job making leverage of in situations that may not seem obvious (waves are just circles so I can use trig ratios to describe sound? Say wha?). Steps: 1. Make circles. Assign your groups and have students made a circle on their paper. Any circle. I always had mine grab things from around the room, use water bottles, compass’ if you have them, etc. They really need to be at least 5 inches across, however, or the measuring is going to be hard. I say it should be bigger than your fist. Each circle also needs to have the x and y axis marked off with (0, 0) at the center. If they drew it and have no idea how to find the middle, use the power of folded paper to assist. Two light folds and some back lighting will identify the middle pretty quickly. 2. Make rulers. Here’s where it gets interesting. Students are going to make a ruler out of something they have. Pencil widths, zippers, earrings, etc. I encourage the use of things about a 1 cm wide, though I try not to use that language. Using the object, they mark off the strip of paper from 0 to as far as they can go. 3. Use the protractor. They need to notch off the edge of the circle for the standard 16 points. Emphasize to put the points on the circle—for some reason that is a problem every year.