Teaching to Apply Maths to Real-world Problems
Implementing decade-old techniques of teaching is not practical, especially while teaching mathematics, says Rajeev N J, a teacher from St Michael’s Girls Higher Secondary School,Kozhikode, who won the second place in the Southern India Science Fair- 2014, held at Madras Christian College Higher Secondary School, Chetput, Chennai.
Rajeev explains the applications of in-radius laboratory, that deals with various concepts of the radius of the circle inscribed in a triangle, especially in a right-angled triangle.
“Learning by doing is one of the most effective ways of learning. In-radius Lab plays a vital role in not only arousing the interest of the learner, but also in making the learning of in-radius more meaningful. In the process of learning by doing, students also learn some applications of maths in real life situations,” said Rajeev.
Calculating the distance between the earth and moon during lunar eclipse, is an example he gives for the real-life application of mathematics.
He explains in the project that during lunar eclipse, the sun, earth and the moon align themselves in a straight line with the earth in between the sun and moon. The shadow of the earth falls on the moon and it is thus eclipsed.
This is done by considering the sun, earth and the moon as circles and assuming that each point on the sun is a light source sending out rays in all directions. Lunar eclipse happens when the moon passes through the shadow of the earth.
Rajeev connects the circles with rays, for example, AB and DG, the last rays illuminating the space beyond earth. AB and DG are external tangents and they are extended and made to intersect at a point called P. Then the region within BEGP is the shadow region. To find out the maximum distance between the earth and the moon, the knowledge of similar triangles can be used.
Similarly, the teacher uses the application of in-circle in calculating the distance between three trains passing through triangular tracks. He also explains the method to construct a square whose area is equal to the area of a given circle, using only a scale and a compass. For smart classrooms, he suggests use of new software like geogebra instead of the traditional methods of teaching.
“Mathematics teachers should also have the technical knowledge to impart ICT to their students,” Rajeev said.
The Southern India Science Fair, jointly organised by Directorate of school Education (DSE), Govt of Tamil Nadu and Visveswarayya Industrial and Technological Museum, Bangalore, was held from January 20 to 24.