In my Principles of Technology class, we are starting to gear-up for a projectile motion project. The students will be working in teams and launching a water balloon at me from exactly 40 yards away.

In the first worksheet in the series, students were given a series of right triangles with sides A and B given. Sometimes the units were the same and other times they would have to convert units.

The students were asked to calculate the length of C in the most appropriate units and then calculate angle X using the trig function (sine, cosine, or tangent) of their choice.

All of my students were able to perform the first calculation using the Pythagorean Theorem. The second calculation, even through it was given step-by-step, was not completed by the majority of the students who are in Algebra I.

The claim was that they had never seen it before. Obviously, I countered with, “Well, you have now.”.