Traverse City Record-Eagle

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May 8, 2014

Motion sensors will help students visualize math

TRAVERSE CITY — Jodi Murphy’s math students at Traverse City High School will have new technology available to help them learn in the fall.

Murphy received a grant from the Association of American Educators Foundation to buy four Texas Instruments motion sensors to use in her math classes. The motion sensors, which cost about $100 each, measure the distance from the sensor to an object and then plot the distance as a data point on a graphing calculator.

Murphy teaches math to freshmen through seniors. She said the sensors will help students better understand graphing concepts, particularly sine and cosine waves in her trigonometry unit. Sine and cosine waves are the most common trigonometric functions.

“That’s a really important concept for students,” Murphy said. “A lot of times they just look at the graph and they don’t know where that data is coming from, so it’s nice to add a visual.”

Murphy plans to use the sensors next year to keep her classes fun and engaging. She has one activity already planned that involves hanging a basketball from the ceiling.

“You swing the basketball, and then the basketball will get closer to that motion sensor and farther away, and it will make a sine wave or a cosine wave. Then students will create a graph that will match that wave,” Murphy said. “It’s a nice team project.”

Another reason Murphy is happy to have new technology available to her students is because it aligns with Common Core standards, she said.

“Part of the new Common Core standards are that students need to be able to use the technology to help them problem solve in math,” she said.

Murphy will begin incorporating the motion sensors into her curriculum in the fall.

 

 

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