Modeling with Periodic Functions

9 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT model periodic phenomena with trigonometric functions.

Big Idea

The sine and cosine functions are flexible tools for modeling a wide array of periodic phenomena.

Jumping Right In

2 minutes

The last few lessons have seen me at the front of the classroom quite a bit more than I like.  Today will be different.

As class begin I will simply hand out Sinusoidal Functions with the explanation that today they're on their own.  They have all the tools they need - radian measure, the unit circle, the sine and cosine functions - and I'm confident that they can solve these problems.

As usual, they will begin by working on their own so that I can do some quick observations as a formative assessment.

Working Individually

10 minutes

The class will be pretty quiet for the first 10 minutes as the students grapple with these problems on their own.  I will move around the room checking for understanding and briefly stopping to work with individual students.  In 10 minutes, I expect most students to complete the first problem and most of the second.

To understand the purpose of these problems, please see this short video.


Solving Problems Collaboratively

30 minutes

Once most students have completed (or nearly completed) the first two problems, I'll allow them to begin working together on Sinusoidal Functions in small groups. They should begin by checking their work up to this point and resolving any differences.  I'll be available to help explain any mistakes that the students can't figure out on their own, and I'll be ready to point out any that they have not noticed (MP3).

Once they're confident that the solutions to the first two problems are correct, they should move on to solve the remaining three.  Note that although students are not explicitly instructed to find the amplitude, period, and midline for the 3rd function, these three quantities will help them to construct the graph more efficiently.

For the modeling problems, the students will need to interpret the given situation to determine the amplitude, frequency, and midline.  Then they will use these to create both an equation and a graph.  Be careful how much "help" you provide here - it's easy to say too much and wind up doing all the thinking for the students!  I will not move beyond the hint: "Can you tell from the given information what the amplitude, period, and midline are?" (MP 2).

The final question is the most challenging because students must use the inverse sine function to solve for multiple values of t.  To make matters worse, they must use the symmetry of the function to identify other values of t that will yeild the same function value.  A good one to practice perseverance on!

Sharing Strategies

5 minutes

At the end of class, I will try to help student synthesize what they've learned by asking them to share some of their strategies for approaching these problems.

I might ask, "Have you found some strategies that might be helpful for your classmates?  What part of the problem do you find it easier to do first?  Which part is the most difficult?"

I'm never sure what they'll come up with, but I expect things like these:

  • I like to draw horizontal lines for the midline, maximum, and minimum.
  • I like to draw vertical lines showing where the period will begin & end.
  • I like to graph the roots first, then the max/min points, then connect the dots.
  • I find it helps to remember that (period)*(frequency) = 2*pi.

We'll end class with this conversation and the assurance that we'll discuss the solution to the more challenging final question tomorrow.