Stranded at sea

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      Before introducing the students to what the tangent ratio even is, I use one of my entire whiteboards and draw a picture of a guy in a boat stranded at sea, with a small lighthouse in the distance. I write that the lighthouse is 70 feet high and all the man has in his boat is a calculator (mysteriously), one bottle of drinking water, orange jellybeans, and a protractor (mysteriously)–and the protractor measures a two-degree angle from the water to the top of the lighthouse. I then tell the students that after today we will be able to figure out how far that lighthouse is from us with just those items and info. I leave the problem on the board throughout the lesson, and in the last five minutes of class we solve the problem.

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