A Simple Way To Teach Polar Coordinates

The courtyard outside my building is laid in a circular pattern, which makes it a perfect setting to teach polar coordinates: Sr Patio   I took my Precalculus class outside and stood on the polar axis. I assigned an r and theta-value to each student. They then had to start at the pole and figure out where their given polar coordinates would position them. It was a great way to incorporate physical movement with math. They even understood what happens when is negative! To wrap things up, we worked out what the equations theta = pi/4 and r = 6 would look like, and we compared them to their rectangular counterparts. Then, back inside to apply our new knowledge to some problems!

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