How to Teach Trig

There’s a post on Reddit today titled, "This is the first thing they should teach in Trigonometry," which is where I stole this gif.

I totally agree. Apart from equal triangles, various equivalences, etc.., understanding the nature of sine and cosine is monumental.

As a teenager, I was so excited by this knowledge, I not only took one point and rotated it in a circle, I then took four points, each 90 degrees apart, connected them by lines, and rotated a square.

Then I said, what happens if you rotate that square 90 degrees into the screen and say clone it a few times? Cool. I can rotate a cube. And what happens if you take that cube and add some parallax, such that things far away move towards a vanishing point?

Pretty soon, basic trig lead me to reinvent 3D graphics, the painters algorithm for drawing polygons, and I was off. In fact, the only thing I was missing as a kid was linear algebra and the knowledge that you could actually make a living doing fun stuff like this. Had I known the latter part, I’d probably have become a game developer at an early age.

 

One thought on “How to Teach Trig

  1. I remember the excitement I felt when I realized what the tangent function in trig had to do with the idea of a tangent line in geometry.

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