Pythagoras’s Left Angle

English: Similar triangles for Pythagoras' theorem

We’re re-reading Julie Ellis’s What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras? right now; a great way to introduce a2+b2=c2, the wonders of right angles… and the real-life application of maths. We’re all enjoying it. But the first time Cinder and Flora encountered the concept of right angles was even more fun. She was three, Cinder not quite six. Their grandparents had just retiled their kitchen floor…

Cinder: “Hey, Dziadzia, look, I’m walking only in diagonals!” My dad grins, and then says, “Huh, I’ve got something more tricky for you. Can you walk in a perpendicular line?” Cinder’s eyes get huge. “What’s that, mom?” he asks. “Oh, that’s a great word and concept to know,” I say, and we walk in parallel lines, and then I show him a perpendicular line in relation to  the parallel. My dad interjects with, “A line at a 90 degree angle.” Cinder frowns. “A right angle,” I add, and show him with my hands. “I’m walking at a right angle to a parallel line!” Cinder shouts. Then– “diagonal is way more fun.”

Enter Flora, crabwalking on all fours: “I’m walking like a left angle, I’m walking like a left angle.”

And that’s how they learn.

From August 2008, APHS.

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