Mr Harold Hobson
MYP Math Teacher
At CISS, the Grade 8 mathematics class was given an assignment recently – they were to calculate the height of the residential building, using math skills they had learned in the classroom. We believe that visual and practical application of skills taught are an excellent way to embed understanding. The Grade 8 students were provided with tape measures of five metres in length, plus clinometers that they had to construct. A clinometer is a device that is used to measure angles of elevation. The skills that they had to use were trigonometry skills and also using proportionality in similar triangles to calculate lengths.
Having never used anything longer than a ruler for measuring distances before, the students were at first uncertain how to go about the process of calculating the height. They were quick to discover that making actual measurements of distances is quite different to measuring or being told theoretical distances within a classroom environment. Modelling a theoretical situation in real life has unforeseen consequences. For example, accurate calculations depend on accurate measurements! Two different techniques were used for calculations. The first one was through trigonometry The second technique using triangle similarity and proportion, was equally challenging, but some of the students were able to use this technique to accurately calculate the height of the residential building to within 40 cm!
Altogether, students very much enjoyed their day outside of the classroom and found that they learned a lot. When given an assessment test afterwards, most of the students did exceptionally well, so I believe that their experience outside of the classroom was a very beneficial one.