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Poster: Windmills In Trigonometry Class

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Think Outside the Box! K-12 Engineering Curriculum

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.964.1 - 15.964.13

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Paper Authors


Brandon Turek-Krengel U. of St. Thomas - St. Paul

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Brandon Turek-Krengel is an undergraduate Mechanical Engineering major at the University of Saint Thomas, graduating in May 2010. While attending UST he conducted research into K-12 engineering education.

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Scott Woelber Edina Public Schools

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Scott Woelber is the K-12 Mathematics Coordinator for Edina Public Schools in Edina, MN. He has 20 years of experience in both public and private schools which includes work as a physics teacher, online statistics teacher, and mathematics teacher with classes from basic algebra through AP Calculus BC. After earning undergraduate degrees in mathematics and physics from Augustana College, Scott earned his M.S.
degree in Secondary Mathematics Education with additional coursework in physics education from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls. He is interested in continuing to improve classroom instruction in mathematics through the use of concrete models and through the application of literacy strategies.

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Ellen Johnson Edina Public Schools

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Ellen Johnson is currently teaching Functions, Statistics, and Trigonometry at Edina High School in Edina, MN. She has experience teaching at Henry Sibley High School, Elk River High School, and Inver Hills Community College. Her experience includes classes from developmental math to enriched geometry. Ellen earned her undergraduate degree in secondary education from the University of Minnesota and has done further coursework in advanced calculus and other topics.

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AnnMarie Thomas University of St. Thomas

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AnnMarie P. Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of St. Thomas, where she is also co-director of the Center for Pre-Collegiate Engineering Education. She holds a Ph.D and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Caltech, and an S.B. in Ocean Engineering from MIT. From 2004-2006 she was a faculty member at the Art Center College of Design teaching engineering courses that she developed for non-engineers.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract



A set of windmill teaching aids has been developed for use by high school trigonometry teachers with the goal of bridging the gap between trigonometry and real world systems. The University of Saint Thomas created 16 mechanisms, and a teacher guides, that make up the Trigonometric Windmill teaching aids in response to a need expressed by the math curriculum coordinator in the Edina public school district. Working closely with the mathematics coordinator, an engineering student at the University of St. Thomas developed a variable set of systems that could assist students in understanding the (angular velocity). There were four primary goals for this project: (1) to open lines of communication between the University Saint Thomas and local PK-12 teachers, (2) to aid in the teaching of trigonometry lessons through the use of hands-on activities created to satisfy MN Academic Standard #9.2.1., (3) to incorporate engineering content into math lessons, and (4) -to-mathematic conversion skills, which has been recognized as an increasingly important skill1 for students to possess. This paper discusses the collaboration process and presents a lesson plan that can be replicated by other schools.


The engineering department at the University of Saint Thomas was approached by the mathematics curriculum coordinator for the Edina school district, with an idea for a collaborative project. The mathematics curriculum coordinator described the need for math students to have a hands-on learning device that could demonstrate both periodic motion and the relationships between the motion of the device and the mathematical equation which describes and predicts the motion. The challenge expressed here is an echo of a common concern among many mathematics and science teachers as well as the National Science Board. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics claims that [few curriculum materials] introduce real-world interdisciplinary problems and serve as advanced placement courses, school-to-work transition 2 This assertion, and others like it, strengthen the claim that math and science are related subjects which should be taught concurrently through hands-on experiences.3 We considered this pedagogical preference when we met to establish the basic requirements of teaching aids that could be used to satisfy MN Academic Standard #

MN Academic Standard # Determine how translations affect the symbolic and graphical forms of a function. Know how to use graphing technology to examine translations. For example .

To meet this standard, students should be able to write, graph and interpret relationships between an object with periodic motion and its corresponding trigonometric equation. Through discussions with educators, the following secondary criteria were established.

Turek-Krengel, B., & Woelber, S., & Johnson, E., & Thomas, A. (2010, June), Poster: Windmills In Trigonometry Class Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015