Note: Familiarity with Ti 83 calculators is essential so that the program BEARINGS can be entered into a set of these calculators.
Along with rulers and compasses, protractors are usually introduced early in curriculum frameworks for mathematics. As students matriculate to middle and high schools, problems involving bearings are introduced. Unfortunately, many students never develop a sense of bearing values because they have only minimal exposure to them.
In an attempt to rectify this situation, I wrote a Ti 83 calculator program that requires students to guess the values of ten randomly drawn bearings with integral values from 5 degrees to 355 degrees. That program provides the correct value after each estimate and then records the total number of degrees away from the actual values at the conclusion of the activity.
My students’ responses for this activity were tepid at first. However, with repeated efforts, not only did their estimates improve, but so did their enthusiasm. Not only do I use it my lower level classes, but I also offer this activity as a challenge to students in my upper level classes.
Interestingly, I had an autistic child in my Survey of Math class several years ago who repeatedly played this activity and his estimate averages were consistently within one degree of the actual values. In fact, he showed me the results once when he had correctly guessed all ten generated bearings.