You are on page 1of 6

# Olive & Oppong: Transforming Mathematics with GSP 4, page 97

Chapter 8: Trigonometry of the unit circle with GSP
Most high-school curricula introduce the trigonometric ratios using ratios in a right triangle. The three main ratios are usually defined for an acute angle, opposite/hypotenuse, cosine

θ

(theta): sine

θ

=

θ

θ

where “opposite” refers to the side of the triangle that is opposite the acute angle refers to the shorter side of the triangle subtended by the angle longest side of the right triangle (see figure 8.1).

θ , and “hypotenuse” is the

Figure 8.1: A right triangle with angle

θ

While this approach to the trigonometric ratios is helpful for students who have only had “triangle geometry,” it has limitations when introducing students to the trigonometric functions. One major limitation is that the angle

θ

can only vary between 0 and 90º (or zero and π/2

radians). The trigonometric functions are functions of the angle an unlimited domain for the values of

θ

θ.

Angle rotation around a circle can provide this

unlimited domain. By convention, when starting with a unit circle on coordinate axes, the angle

θ

is measured as rotation anti-clockwise, starting from the positive x-axis (see figure 8.2).

A major advantage to using the UNIT circle for this construction is that the hypotenuse now has length one unit. respectively. In figure 8.3: The hypotenuse of the right triangle is now in Quadrant II. In figure 8. to π/2.2: Trigonometric right triangle in the Unit Circle.Olive & Oppong: Transforming Mathematics with GSP 4. and therefore the sine and cosine ratios of the angle θ have the values of the lengths of the opposite and adjacent sides. . page 98 Figure 8. the right triangle is shown in the first quadrant of the coordinate system. Within this quadrant. Figure 8.2 above. θ ranges from zero θ has been rotated into the second quadrant.3.