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Using a GPS Handheld Receiver to Determine Distance 
and Area of Polygonal Plot

Activity Description Activity Guide

This activity explores how distances and areas of convex polygonal plots of land (and concave plots with modification) can be determined using a GPS, The Geometerís Sketchpad, and Excel.

Mathematics:  This activity involves measurement of longitude and latitude, the distance formula, Heronís formula, and areas of convex and concave polygons. 

Mathematical Thinking:  Conversion of differences in longitude and latitude to miles, subdividing regions to determine areas, devising a spreadsheet-based general method to calculate areas of polygons.

Technology:  The activity utilizes the position features of a Global Positioning System, basic construction and measurement features of the Geometerís Sketchpad, and a basic Excel spreadsheet.

Sample Screenshot:  A spreadsheet using Heronís formula to calculate the area of the rectangular lot, subdivided into two triangular regions, of Lambeth House at the University of Virginia.


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Last modified on July 27, 2001.