Reflection: Complex Tasks Riding a Ferris Wheel - Day 1 of 2 - Section 1: Launch and Explore


Sine and cosine graphs are difficult! Student may not intuitively understand why the graph is curved if they are just presented with a representation that makes the connection to right triangles.

The Ferris wheel problem is a classic application of a sine curve, and I have used it many times in the past. Starting the unit by using a Ferris wheel graph and a graph with a constant rate of change is something I have only done recently, but I am so glad that I made that change! It is so important for students to really compare and contrast the two situations - I don't think they fully understand the curvy nature of the function unless they see its mathematical foil.

Here you can see a student's work and evidence of their thought process. Originally she thought that the Ferris wheel graph would look like the zig-zag graph, but changed her thinking after further thought. She may have held on to this misconception had she not thought about both of these situations together.

  Complex Tasks: Making Sense of a Complex Idea
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Riding a Ferris Wheel - Day 1 of 2

Unit 4: Trigonometric Functions
Lesson 1 of 14

Objective: SWBAT identify characteristics of periodic functions.

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