Primitive Navigation - Coordinate System


Students go to the Harvard Chapel and establish a coordinate system of 'easting' and 'northing' using simply their bodies, their environments, and a notepad. 

From the Chapel, the students are to walk a path that is a series of straight lines, and count the number of paces along each segment. They also keep track of the angles they turn on each segment of the journey. They go to the Center for Astrophysics, which within easy walking distance (about 20 minutes), and then walk up to the roof. They write down a record of the number of paces and angles on the walk. They measure the angular height of the steeple of the Chapel from the Center for Astrophysics and record that. Once they're finished, they then make a map of the path they took to scale by tracing out the legs of the journey. They then report the coordinates of the Center for Astrophysics relative to the Chapel in the coordinates of Easting and Northing, taking the Chapel as the origin. They then measure the straight line distance from the Chapel to the Center for Astrophysics. Finally, from the angular height of the steeple and the distance they measure they calculate the height of the steeple using the small angle approximation. The height of the steeple, the coordinates of the Center for Astrophysics and the distance to it are recorded into a database for later discussion in lecture. This assignment teaches coordinates, vectors, use of paces to measure distance, and use of fingers on outstretched arm to estimate distances/sizes.

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