This is an activity that I used in a Math class to attempt to clarify the concepts of elevation and depression. It was originally posted on my blog here.

The goal of this lesson is to present elevation and depression in a manner that is consistent with the pedagogy of Alberta’s revised program of studies. As much as possible, we want the students active and constructing their own meaning.

To introduce angle of elevation and depression, first introduce the concept of “horizontal”. Have the students use tape measures to measure the heights of their eyes. Then ask them to circulate around the room and find an object that is at the exact same height as their eyes and label a picture that looks like this:

Next, instruct students to make a list of objects in the room that they would have to look up to see (elevation),

and objects that they would have to look down to see (depression).

Find something high and inaccessible in your school like a roof or a flagpole. Take the class there and ask them to guess how tall that item is. Record those guesses. I promise a prize for whichever team of three has the closest estimate to the actual height.

Have the students construct clinometers similar to this one, and get them to return to the object and use the clinometer and a tape measure to calculate the actual height of the object.

Once the students have made their measurements, return to the classroom to make the calculations. Get each group to record their calculation next to their guess on the board. Discuss.

All of the handouts and a description of this activity are here, in Word format: Math 10 Angle of Elevation and Depression

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