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4.1: Trigonometric Identities

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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This activity is intended to supplement Trigonometry, Chapter 3, Lesson 1.

ID: 9848

Time required: 45 minutes

Activity Overview

Students will verify, prove, and explore trigonometric identities symbolically, numerically, and graphically.

Topic: Trigonometric Identities

  • Use the Pythagorean Theorem to prove the trigonometric identities sin2θ+cos2θ=1 and sec2θ=1+tan2θ.
  • Verify trigonometric identities by graphing.

Teacher Preparation and Notes

  • Prior to beginning the activity, students should download the VERITRIG program to their handhelds. This investigation has students exploring, proving, and verifying trigonometric identities.
  • Students should already be familiar with right triangle trigonometric properties, similar triangles, and the Pythagorean Theorem since much of the activity is based on these fundamental theorems.
  • Students should begin by clearing out any functions from the Y= screen and turning off all Stat Plots.
  • To download the calculator file, go to http://www.education.ti.com/calculators/downloads/US/Activities/Detail?id=9848 and select VERITRIG.

Associated Materials

Problem 1 – Prove cos2θ+sin2θ=1

In this problem, students will prove two of the basic trigonometric identities using the Pythagorean Theorem.

Press PRGM to access the Program menu.

Then choose the VERITRIG program and press ENTER. Select 1: PROVE ID 1.

Students will see a circle with a radius of 1 with a right triangle in the first quadrant.

Students will label the right triangle using the Text tool. Press 2nd [PRGM] and arrow down to select 0:Text.

Now students can position the cursor near the middle of the hypotenuse and enter in the radius. Then press 2nd [APLHA] to lock the alpha key on and enter in x, y, and θ in their respective places in a right triangle.

If students make a mistake, they can press 2nd [PRGM] and select ClrDraw. Then they need to run the program again.

On the worksheet, students will prove: cos2θ+sin2θ=1.

  1. x2+y2=1
  2. cosθ=x1 and sinθ=y1
  3. Substituting x=cosθ and y=sinθ into x2+y2=1 gives cos2θ+sin2θ=1.

When finished, students can press 2nd [QUIT] to exit the drawing.

Problem 2 – Prove sec2θ=1+tan2θ

Students need to run the VERITRIG program and select 2: PROVE ID 2.

Students will see a new version of the unit circle with the original right triangle and then a similar triangle drawn to incorporate the original triangle.

Again, they need to use the Text tool and label the original triangle.

Students are told on the worksheet that the length of the base of the large triangle is 1, the height is Y and the hypotenuse is X. Students need to use the Text tool to label the large similar triangle accordingly.

Using the ratio given on the worksheet, students will prove sec2θ=1+tan2θ. You may need to explain to students that (small ) and (large ) reference where that part of the ratio came from and is not actually part of the ratio.


Substituting Y=tanθ and X=secθ into the Pythagorean Theorem based on the larger triangle: 12+Y2=X21+(tanθ)2=(secθ)21+tan2θ=sec2θ

Problem 3 – Numerical verification

Now that students have proved the two identities, they will numerically verify the two identities.

Students need to run the VERITRIG program and select 3: NUM EXPLORE.

Students will see the same circle, but with three triangles in the first quadrant. When they press TRACE, they will see the xvalues for cosine and the yvalues for sine for each angle measurement.

Students should observe that the values for cosine and sine repeat but change signs depending on what quadrant the angle is in.

These values are stored in the lists of the calculator with the angle measurements in L1, the cosine values in L2, and the sine values in L3.

To numerically verify cos2θ+sin2θ=1; students are to enter L22+L32 at the top of L4.

Students will discover that they need to enter “1cosθ” to get secθ. The value of secθ is undefined at 0 and 3π2 , and the calculator will not evaluate these values within a list. The same thing will happen to tanθ , which is equal to sinθcosθ.

However, students should arrive at the fact that they can graph the identities to verify the identity as the screen shots illustrate. They should set the calculator to the trig window by pressing ZOOM and select 7:ZTrig. (Note: Students will need to use the ClrDraw command to erase the unit circle and turn off Plot1.)

Problem 4 – Verifying trig identities using graphing.

The previous problem leads into utilizing graphing techniques to verify various trig identities.

Students are to determine whether the identity

sin2x=1cos2x is true by entering sin2x into Y1 and 1cos2x into Y2. To set the bubble animation for the second graph, students need to press ENTER to the left of the equals sign.

Students need to select ZTrig for a trig window.

If the bubble runs over the same graph as the first, the equation is a trig identity.

Explain to students that they can check any equation using this method.

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Date Created:
Feb 23, 2012
Last Modified:
Nov 04, 2014
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