Westward Ho! How Far is Yonder Mountain
One of a collection of PowerPoint/Excel modules designed to reinforce quantitative skills in geologic context. Students build a spreadsheet to calculate the distance of a peak using vertical angles sighted from a wagon train heading directly for the peak. The spreadsheet also calculates the height of the peak above the plain.
- Gain experience in figuring out how to solve a trigonometric problem in geologic/geographic context.
- Develop a spreadsheet to carry out a calculation.
- Consider the effect on the calculated answer of small uncertainties in the measured quantities.
Context for Use
This activity was designed for an upper-division math-in-geology course for geology majors but can easily be used in an introductory undergraduate geoscience class, as well as a high school trigonometry class.
Description and Teaching Materials
PowerPoint/Excel module (Microsoft Word 100kB Jul23 06)
Teaching Notes and Tips
The module is intended as a stand-alone resource. It can be used as a lab exercise or handwork assignment, or as the basis of an interactive classroom activity with just-in-time teaching of mathematical problem solving. The problem context and the mathematical content are developed within the module.
The module ends with hand-in questions that the students answer by manipulating the spreadsheet that they prepared while working through the module.
References and Resources