In a pre calculus class at Copperas Cove High School, students laid out fettucine to create sine waves, showing a smooth, repetitive oscillation. The wave is named after the function sine, which it graphs. It often occurs in pure and applied mathematics as well as signal processing, engineering, and physics.
According to teacher James Buzzard, students see the unit circle made into a circular function. It gives them the chance to create the sine waves using pasta in a hands on manner.
Boxes of open pasta were scattered across the eight tables in the room. Students plotted the wave by snapping noodles in different measurements thus creating the wave length.
“You are really taking a 360 degree circle and using noodles to create the co-sign on the ‘x’ axis horizontally to indicate degrees on the circle and we do this twice around,” said senior Ryan Aldrich. “It ends up being a really cool wave. It’s very much like graphing it.”
What was most challenging about the project? Aldrich said it was breaking the noodles into the correct lengths.
Other students reported that the project helped them visualize the concept, which they had been struggling to understand.