Understanding Waveforms


BY Calder Martin

Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School

Project Description

Teaching trigonometry entails close examination of waveforms and their transformations. I have found it to be exceedingly helpful to show examples of waves to my students using an oscilloscope in combination with sound waves, as well as function generators.  In addition to these tools, I would like to purchase a small MIDI keyboard that could be connected to the oscilloscope.  And, I would like to acquire materials to build a Chladni plate.  The plate demonstrates the effect of vibration, and shows visual representations of waveforms.  As you can see from the attached picture, the screen on the analog oscilloscope is small, and it would be a big improvement if we could project the image.  We have the laptop and the camera, but our projector is out of date, so I have included a good quality projector as part of the budget.  A new projector would also lend itself to a multitude of other classroom projects, and it would make my classroom more vibrant and effective.  The goal is that students will use these tools to test and reflect on their assumptions about waveforms.  They will be able to make connections between algebra and geometry.

How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)

The success of this project will be based on the enthusiasm and enjoyment of the students and the quality of their corresponding trigonometry work.  Success would mean that some students used the tools to create or show connections between sound(or music) and geometry, and some students will show or create connections between Chladni figures and more commonly represented forms such as the movement of planets (for example).  Overall, success would be evaluated based on assessment of enhanced use of algebra by the students.

Benefit to the students and the school

Students will have access to view mathematical shapes that are otherwise difficult to see, or outright invisible.  This is a rare opportunity to showcase geometry that is hidden everywhere in the natural world, and it gives students the ability to identify these forms with the algebra they are studying.  The school as a whole would benefit from the excitement of the high school math department and the students’ discoveries.  The projector would be a welcome enhancement to the math classroom.

Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)

To be implemented second semester 2019