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Chambers’ students apply trig ‘in the field’

Kent Chambers, kneeling at left, helps his pre-calculus students solve a problem using 'triangle trig' at the baseball field on the campus of Bob Jones High School. (CONTRIBUTED)
Kent Chambers, kneeling at left, helps his pre-calculus students solve a problem using ‘triangle trig’ at the baseball field on the campus of Bob Jones High School. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Kent Chambers, a pre-calculus teacher at Bob Jones High School, effectively applies classroom material to challenge his students in solving tangible, real-world problems.

“In pre-calculus, about one-third of the course is dealing with trigonometry,” Chambers said. In simple terms, ‘trig’ is the study of triangles.

“Within this part of the course is the study of Right Triangle Trig, Laws of Sines and Laws of Cosine,” Chambers said. “These three skills are used to find unknown values of triangles.”

For the “triangle trig” component, Chambers has his students go to the baseball field on the Bob Jones campus. He prepares essay questions that the students must solve by applying measurements on the field between bases, perimeter nets and other relationships of shapes on the ‘diamond.’

“We give the students the base length distances and the pitching distances on the baseball and softball fields,” Chambers said. “Within the assignment, they calculate all the other measurements using trig.”

Consider the following question from Chambers’ assignments: “The softball field backstop has been damaged by a wind storm. A lift must be rented in order to repair the net. How high should the lift reach in order to repair the net?”

To calculate their answer, students “take a measurement from the base of the backstop, and then calculate the angle of elevation to the top of the net,” Chamber said. “Using this measurement, they can calculate the height.”

By using this practical application of triangle trig, “hopefully, students see hands-on how they can use what they learn in class in everyday situations,” Chambers said.

“In real life, there are many instances when we need to know the measurement of something (but) in which a tape measure is not practical. Triangle trig teaches how to find these measurements,” he said.

Chambers also is head softball coach and assistant athletic director at Bob Jones.

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