Monday, January 15, 2018

Physically Stretching Angles To Get A Feel For Degrees

Units of measurement can be a tough concept, primarily because they are man made ideas.  Consider the time measurement of a "Minute." What the hell is that?  60 Seconds.  Well, what is a second then? Show me a second.  How about the length measurement of a "Foot." Common lore is it is a distance measured as the length of the Kings foot.  Damn, one could only imagine how weird that is as new kings come and go.  Anyway, these things are not endemic to nature, they are convenience grouping mechanisms (that are often not convenient!!)

Degrees are another such man made measurment construct.  We say things like circles have 360 degrees, or the corner of a square has a measure of 90 degrees.  Alas, what is a degree and how does one get a feel for what it is?
Making 90 degree corners is easy!

The girls and I were stretching for our daily Martial Arts session when we stumbled into a nice way to express our degrees of an angle.

The floors inside our house are big square tiles.  By having the girls do their stretching with  their butts on the grout line crossing points, we could line our selves up along the edges of the square to put ourselves at 90 degrees!

As we sat stretching at 90 degrees, I asked my youngest what half of 90 would be and she said 45.  I then asked my eldest to close her legs to half of what they were, and asked her what angle she was now making. "45 degrees dad"  Perfect!!

Show Offs! 180 degrees
Back to 90 degrees.  "How much is 2 x 90 degrees?" "180 degrees dad." "YES! Let's go!" and into full split action we went!!

Making Angles and Degrees an Experience rather than a theoretical mental construct aligns perfectly with our Homeschool Charter (III.Philosophy.4). Having them be the legs of an angle was key. They got a feel for various angle measures, how to measure the angle between two lines, and how four 90 degree corners could build a square; plus they did their stretching to boot!

As we wrapped up our stretching, the youngest piped up, "You know dad, it's like the arms on a clock"  Yup, sure is.