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Indirect Measurement

Two of Mr. Wright's students figuring out the height of the basketball hoop

The topic of math doesn’t grab many people’s attention, but it does for the teacher Mr. Wright, who currently teaches basic geometry, geometry, algebra II, and calculus I. To keep kids’ attentions and to help them learn more, he uses activities. One of those activities is indirect measurement. What exactly is indirect measurement? Well, it involves finding the height of an object that is not easy to measure with a tape measure. In order to accomplish this, the horizontal distance is measured with a tape measure. A clinometer is then used to find the angle of elevation. After all that is done, trigonometry can be used the find the height of the object.

This activity is currently done in his geometry. He actually does something similar to this activity earlier in geometry which uses mirror and similar triangles to do the indirect measurement. He then has his students compare the heights they found from each activity. Eventually, once his students get to algebra II they will use some of this knowledge by going outside on a sunny day to approximate the heights of trees, lights poles, the school, and other objects. To do this, shadows are measured and once again angles of elevation are found. Once this is done, they use their knowledge of indirect measurement to apply trigonometry to find the heights.

Is the indirect measurement activity useful? Well, Mr. Wright believes that it very much is because the students have to think about all of the information that they gather in order to solve the problem. He believes it helps with the understanding of the math. It also allows students to get out of the classroom for a day to do some hands-on work. He said, “The problems are much more fun when the students gather their own data to solve a problem.” He doesn’t remember when he started this activity, but he has been doing this for many years.

The Central Lyon Community School District offers career and technical programs in the following areas of study: Business Education, Family & Consumer Sciences Education, Industrial Arts Education and Vocation Agriculture Education. It is the policy of the Central Lyon Community School District not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, creed, age (for employment), marital status (for programs), sexual orientation, gender identity and socioeconomic status (for programs) in its educational programs and its employment practices. Inquiries or grievances may be directed to the Superintendent, Central Lyon CSD, 1010 S. Greene St., Rock Rapids, IA 51246, (712) 472-2664, superintendent@centrallyon.org. Please see District Board Policies for additional information on grievance procedures.