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Exploring Trigonometric Functions

Activity Description Activity GuideResources

This activity has students geometrically construct and investigate the graphs of sine and cosine based upon the lengths of the sides of a reference triangle.

Students will learn a little history of trigonometry while defining the sine and cosine functions using the unit circle. Students will qualitatively and quantitatively compare the numerical and graphical characteristics of the sine and cosine functions.

Mathematical Thinking: Students will be asked to predict the basic shape of the functions and how the graphs will differ once the radius of the circle is changed.

Technology: This activity uses several new Sketchpad commands such as: Create Axes, Circumference, Animation button, Movement button, Trace Point, and Hide/Show button.

The following sketch illustrates the trigonometric functions, sine and cosine.

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Last modified on August 13, 2001.