Engaging students: Defining angles and measures of angles

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission again comes from my former student Katie Pelzel. Her topic, from Geometry: defining angles and measures of angles.

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C1).How has this topic appeared in pop culture?

Video games are a huge deal in pop culture today. Not only kids play them, teenagers and adults frequently play video games. Angles show up in video games whether we see them or not. They are there. For example, in the game MLB 2K10 they are given three cameras – pitcher, pitcher 2 and pitcher 3. The pitcher view is a higher- angle shot that gets more of the mound and base paths into the frame so that the pitcher and the strike zone is smaller than in the pitcher 3 view. The pitcher 3 is a lower angle which is zoomed in more. The view from pitcher 2 shows what is between the pitcher and pitcher 3. The steeper the positions or angles will help the game be easier to see. Most “gamers” would not think about how these actual angles are used in the mathematical world. Realistically these views are placed into angles so that the game can appear real to the “gamers” playing the game. Angles are used to help make any game look better. Similarly, angles are also used in movies and television to help improve the views that people see when watching them. They take special angles so that the view is better. They angle the camera to acute, obtuse and right angles so that the view is not just point blank range. Also, they measure out the angles so that they can make note of the correct angle that gives them the greatest view. They use the angles to emphasize on important views of the show to have a more dramatic effect.


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C2). How has this topic appeared in high culture?

Angles are used in high culture quite regularly. The Greeks and Romans used angles to create beautiful architecture. For example, they measured out angles to make statues, buildings and coliseums. By creating these angles in their work, the Greeks and Romans brought about more character and life to the architecture. Learning how to use angles require a familiarity with basic math concepts and how to put them together when creating a building or bridge. Also, these angles can be used to help make buildings and bridges safer. In situations where there are natural disasters, angles can help keep the buildings and bridges from collapsing. Also, without the usage of angles architects and engineers would not be able to have the correct height of a ceiling or the correct angle of the road from a bridge. Angles are very important when it comes to building things. Angles are also used in art. Angles are used to give paintings/drawings the illusion of the portrait being 3-dimensional. Angles are drawn or created to make the pictures or objects appear 3-D. Artists have to drawn and measure out accurate angles in order to portray the ultimate 3-D art.

angle1 angle2


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D2). How was the topic adopted by the mathematical community?

Angles were not invented but rather discovered. The term angle comes from the Latin word angulus, which means corner. Archimedes of Syracuse, a Greek mathematician, is credited with the discovery of angles. This is how the topic was adopted by the mathematical community. Euclid came next, he defined a “plane angle as the inclination to each other, in a plane, of two lines which meet each other, and do not like straight with respect to each other.” The first concept was used by Eudemus. He noted an angle as a deviation from a straight line. The second concept was used by Carpus of Antioch, he regarded an angle as the interval or space between intersecting lines. Finally, Euclid adopted the third concept, which is where we get the definitions of right, acute, and obtuse angles.






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