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Lesson Overview

Lesson Title:
Using GPS to Calculate Area

Mrs. Christy Kreutzer (Primary)

Brief Description:
This lesson allows students to use a GPS device to calculate the area of a parking lot, odd shaped lot, etc.

Topics Introduced:
Pythagorean Theorem, area of rectangles, triangles, and calculating area on odd shapes

Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics Curriculum Framework Components Addressed:
Logistics Planning and Management Services
Suggested Grade Levels:
10th Grade
11th Grade
12th Grade

Standards Taught:
8.4.2 Math 2006
8.4.3 Math 2006

Lesson Information

Learning Expectations:

The students should have prerequisite knowledge of calculating the area of basic shapes such as triangles and rectangles, etc. They should also have a basic knowledge of Trigonometry.

Plan Of Action:

1. The students will first calculate the area of a shape that requires using the Pythagorean Theorem, area of a triangle, and area of a rectangle. Then they will be asked to find the area of a shape that requires using more complicated trigonometric formulas and computations. (Use the attached pdf file "Lesson Plan" for examples and to introduce the concepts and examples.)
2. After finding that area using these complicated formulas they will explore how to find the area of off shapes using a global positioning device. Show the students the provided "GPS Video" to introduce the concept of GPS. (You may also use the link: Student s will then use a GPS device (Garmin eTrex Venture HC or similar model) to go to a predetermined area like a parking lot or a open field and use the device to calculate the area of the space. Directions on how to use this particular model are also included in the provided "Lesson Plan" file.
3. Once done with the activity, the students will return to discuss the data collected and the results of the activity.

Data Set Used:

Data set will be collected by students provided GPS units.

Materials Needed:

Materials needed are several GPS devices, approximately one GPS device that will calculate area for every 2-3 students.
A computer and projector to show examples and the "GPS Video."

Preparation Period:

This lesson requires access to the internet to show the short video on GPS. It also requires several GPS devices that will calculate area. ( Not all GPS devices will calculate area.) I used the InterWrite pad for my lesson, but it would not necessarily be required to complete the lesson.

Implementation Period:

This lesson should be implemented at the end of a course in Trigonometry. The lesson will take approximately 1 hour to complete and may require up to two 45 minutes class periods.

Science, Math, Engineering and / or Technology Implications:

The students are able to explore different technologies that engineers can use when dealing with real life problems such as the size of a parking lot that is needed to best serve patrons.

Unexpected Results:

It was difficult for me to find enough GPS devices that would calculate area. I ended up using a free download of Google Earth Pro to have the students calculate the area. I did not realize that our internet was not working well due to an unlocked wireless network so this slowed things way down also.

Considerations for Diversity in Education:

All of my students were able to complete the task and hopefully will think about pursuing a career in engineering some day.

Lesson Files

Lesson Plan
This is a pdf file of the Interwrite lesson that I used with my students.
[size: 2073085] [date uploaded: Mar 10, 2011, 9:17 am ]

GPS Video
This is the GPS video that I used during my lesson to explain to the students what GPS is. You can also access it at
[size: 5580543] [date uploaded: Mar 10, 2011, 9:19 am ]

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