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High Dive Unit Problem

Problem Statement:

The High Dive problem is asking for exactly how long Sheryl and Kaid should

wait on the Ferris wheel before dropping Andrew so that he can fall perfectly into the

pool. The Ferris wheel has a radius of 50ft, its center is 65ft off the ground, it has a con-

stant speed and takes 40 seconds to make a complete turn moving counter clockwise. An-

drew will start at the 3 o’ clock position when the moving water/pool cart starts moving.

The pool cart is 240ft left of the center of the Ferris wheel. The top of the pool is 8ft off

the ground. The cart moves 15ft/sec constantly. For this problem I had to find the distance

from the center to the top of the pool, the height of Andre at any given time, the horizon-

tal position of Andre at any given time, Andre’s falling time from the Ferris wheel, the

angular speed of the Ferris wheel, and the time Andre spends on any given part of the

Ferris wheel. In order to solve this problem, I need to find out the relations of cosine and

sine to triangles and apply it to the Ferris wheel. I also need to find all the equations for

finding the information I need. The math I will use would be trigonometry with sine and

cosine, the Pythagorean Theorem, and simple addition and subtraction. My plan for solv-

ing this problem will be to first look at all the equations I have that are related to the

problem. I will then take the ultimate equation, which combines the equation for finding

the cart’s x-coordinate and the equation for finding Andre’s x-coordinate, to find the exact

time where Andre and the cart intersect, in other words when the two numbers from each

equation equal each other. I plan on using the graphing calculator to graph the two equa-

tions and find the intersection instead of guess and checking with the equation or solving
it algebraically. To find the intersection I will hit 2nd and Trace on the graphing calculator

and then hit 5 (intersect) so that it shows me the intersections on the graph. The number I

get for the x-value will be the answer to the problem. After getting the answer, I will

double-check with Ms. Farrell to make sure I got the right answer.


Diagram is at the end of the section.

Andre’s Height = 57+50sin(9w)

57 is the distance between the center of the Ferris wheel and the top of the pool in

the cart. 50 is the radius of the Ferris wheel. 9 is the angular speed of the Ferris wheel.

Multiplying the angular speed by the wheel time will give you the angle at where Andre

is on the Ferris wheel, and then you find the sine of that angle in order to get the height of

Andre at any point. Then you multiply 50 by the answer because it’s the hypotenuse and

sine is opposite over hypotenuse. You need to add 57 to that answer because you need to

consider the distance between the center of the Ferris wheel and the top of the pool to

find Andre’s height from the top of the pool.

Andre’s Horizontal Position = 50cos(9w)

50 is the radius of the Ferris wheel. 9 is the angular speed. Again you multiply the

angular speed of the Ferris wheel by the wheel time to get the angle, but this time you

have to use cosine in order to find the horizontal position because sine is only used for

the vertical position. Multiply the answer by 50 because that’s the hypotenuse and cosine

is adjacent over hypotenuse.

Andre’s Falling Time = √57+50sin(9w)/16

57+50sin(9w) is the height, and 16 is the number that represents gravity (16ft/

sec). This equation came form the general falling time equation which is t=h/16.

Cart’s Horizontal Position = -240+15((√57+50sin(9w)/16)+w)

-240 is the cart’s horizontal position when it starts moving. 15ft/sec is the cart’s

constant speed. Adding the falling time and wheel time will give you the total seconds the

cart will be moving for. Multiplying the time by the speed will give you the distance trav-

eled by the cart, and when you add -240 to that number, you will get the horizontal posi-

tion of the cart.

Average Speed: To get the average speed, you have to add the initial speed and final

speed, then divide the answer by two.

In order to be able to use the equations correctly, you have to understand how

PEMDAS works. Always do the math in the parentheses (p) first, then do exponents (e),

and multiplication (m), then division (d), and it leaves you with addition (a) and subtrac-

tion (s) left. This order is very important because if you don’t follow this order, the an-

swer of an equation may come out to be a different number.

Trigonometry is a main part of solving this unit problem because the Ferris wheel

is a circle and it moves in a periodic way. In other words, it would move and then when it

reaches a certain point, it repeats the cycle again, but the time will always be increasing

while everything else will be repeating. Trigonometry functions are periodic functions so

the Ferris wheel can be modeled by them. The cart however does not move periodically

because it goes at a constant rate in a straight line, therefore trigonometry cannot be used

for the cart. Examples of scenarios that can be modeled by sine or cosine are: 1) A child
jump-roping or 2) A child on a swing. The two functions used in this unit problem are

sine and cosine. They both use the hypotenuse because sine is opposite over hypotenuse

while cosine is adjacent over hypotenuse. They only work with right triangles. Cosine’s

x-value decreases when the angle increases, while sine’s y-value increases when the an-

gle increases. Cosine tells us the x-value on the unit circle while sine tells us the y-value

on the unit circle. The unit circle is a circle with a radius of 1 unit.

I plug these two equations into the graphing calculator:



I have to find where the two separate graphs intersect because that is the point

where the cart and Andre will clash; when Andre hits the pool. Then I hit 2nd and Trace to

go to Calculate. I select 5: intersect and it goes to a graph where the intersection is

marked. I hit enter until it says Intersection at the bottom left of the screen and below it

will give me the x-value (which will be the time in seconds). This is the answer to the

unit problem.

Sheryl and Kaid should drop Andre off the Ferris wheel at exactly 12.282855 sec-

onds after the starting point at 3 o’ clock. This is the right answer because if you plug in

the variable W with 12.282855 for the following two equations: 1) -240+15((√57+50sin

(9X)/16)+X) and 2) 50cos(9X), both equations should equal to the same number:

-17.54771. This number is where on the x-coordinate will Andre and the pool will come

into contact with each other. If both equations equal to the same number, that means the

number I plugged in for the X variable is correct, and it proves that 12.282855 seconds is

the correct answer.


When I first looked at this problem I thought that it could be simply solved using

algebra, but that wasn’t the case. Since I don’t know how to solve cosine and sine using

algebra, I’m definitely not going to be able to solve the unit problem by solving the two

equations, so I had to find a different way. After hearing many students doing guess and

check, I initially thought that the only way the problem could be solved was through

guess and check too, but then Ms. Farrell announced that there is an easier way to solve

the problem. This made me think about graphing the equations on a calculator.

So I began by experimenting with the graphing calculator. First I plugged the two

equations in and looked at the graph. Then I tried to trace where the lines intersected, but

I didn’t think that would give me the accurate answer, so I decided to look for a better
way of doing this. I realized that the graphing calculator had an option for calculating the

intersection, so I got excited and tried it out. When I got the answer I plugged it in to see

if it worked, and it did, so this was how I solved the unit problem. While working on my

work section of this write up, I realized how much of trigonometry I learned for this unit.

It helped me review everything we learned in class, as well as helped me to connect the

new knowledge to solving the unit problem.

Things that would change my answer would be if I had rounded the answer I got

from the calculator and tried to plug it in to the equation because the answer may also be

different since when numbers are rounded, the answers would change too. Another thing

that would affect my answer was if I had used the wrong number from the graphing cal-

culator, and took the y-value instead of the x-value, because the x-value is the wheel

time, while the y-value is the sum of the wheel time and falling time (the time it takes for

Andre to reach the pool after starting the Ferris wheel). If I used the wrong number, the

two horizontal position equations won’t equal to the same number.

The math learned in this unit problem can be used to solve any real world prob-

lem that can be modeled by a periodic function. Examples are 1) the daily routine of a

MUNI bus. It is a periodic function because the bus will go back to the direction it started

after it reaches the last stop in the other direction. It’s a cycle that repeats and increases in

time. We can use this math to solve when exactly should a student leave their house in

order to make it on time to catch the last bus that will arrive on school on time. For this

scenario, we will need to consider the bus’s periodic function as well as the student’s time

to leave the house and get to the bus stop. I think this problem would be really helpful for
students who come to school late, 2) a CD being played on repeat. The CD will play a

specific number of songs before it will repeat by going to the first one, starting over

again. We can use this math to solve how long it will take until a specific song (i.e. fifth

or seventh song on the CD) will repeat a certain number of times (i.e. three times). This

would have to do with time as well as the CD’s periodic function.