Pythagorean theorem right triangles tasks

Garbage Can Task

The following task happened by accident:

I was about to introduce a problem to my Math 9 Enriched class that we were going to complete with group whiteboards. Before I could introduce, life got in the way. Students wanted to know about their most recent examination. As I launched into a speech on their performance, a student got up to sharpen their pencil. She walked right in front of me. I made a comment, and she replied that the garbage can should be in the back corner where it would be more convenient. 

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Sprinkler Task

I am frustratingly mathematical. Ask my wife. I see the world as a combination of, in the words of David Berlinski, absolutely elementary mathematics.(AEM). The path of a yo-yo, the tiles in the mall, and the trail of wetness after a bike rides through a puddle are all dissected with simple, mathematical phenomenon. The nice part about AEM is that I can talk about it to almost anyone. People are (vaguely) familiar with graphs, geometric patterns, and circles even if they can’t decipher what practical implications they have on their city block. Unfortunately, people (and students) don’t often want to hear about them–they need to see them.

I can remember the look on my mother’s face when I broke out the silverware to show her that the restaurant table corner was not square. Without a ruler, I showed her that trigonometry allows us to rely on ratio rather than set measurements. As I was in the midst of showing her that the 3-4-5 knife-length rule was breached, the waitress came. Mom was horrified; I was thrilled.

right triangles roots tasks technology

Measuring Roots

I stumbled upon the “root” of this activity late in the school year after I had already taught the unit on radicals and their approximate values to my Grade 9s. I modified its purpose, but the original framework is credited to John Scammell. (@scamdog) I found the concept to be a fairly easy one for the students to grasp once the identity of a root was explored. Students know what a square root is. In fact, I was challenged by a 7 year old boy who I was babysitting just the other day. His older sister–an 8 year old genius–was obviously giving him a crash course in radical mathematics. She had explained to him that square roots can be presented as a problem. He challenged me with this:
“What is the Square Root of 3? I mean, what is the square root of 9?”