Take and Make: Mini Unit Circle

Lauren SiegelMaking Math, Take and Make, Teacher Support & Training6 Comments

We made a little video of the mini unit circle with Radian piece and it got some interest on our twitter feed.  We tidied up and updated the file as much as possible and have three versions available:

link to Adobe Illustrated Mini Unit Circle File

You are welcome to take these files to your school or other makerspace and just make your own.   We used 1/8″ baltic birch plywood and an epilog laser.  Green lines are for light vector etching and black lines are vector cuts.  Use settings that work on your machine with your materials  We are using the Common License that says “feel free to use these”.

If you cut your own pieces you will have something like what you see below and you will need to assemble.  We glued the coordinate ring to the quadrant ring back to back and radians to degrees, but it’s up to you.  Match triangles so they are two sided or keep as separate pieces.  Binder clips make great clamps.


Note:  The original design was created by MathHappens intern Payton Crawley at request of Glenn Larson at Louisiana Tech in 2016.  Dr. Larson’s group has since created a larger version with some additional features along with a suite of lessons for use in the classroom.  Those will be available soon.  We went the opposite direction from that original idea and created this simple mini for use in sample kits, on document cameras, or for an individual.  Final size is 6″ x 6″.

Update October 14, 2022:

As we  make and distribute models we sometimes receive back some great evidence that they are making a difference for teachers and students.  Here’s one example from Cristo Rey San Diego High School teacher Nancy Mattiace:

Thank you so much for the wooden unit circles. My precalculus students have been using them for the last 2 days to make sense out of the unit circle and the special 30-60-90 and 45-45-90 triangles. They have been rearranging them to figure out the coordinates on the unit circle and how that relates to the side lengths of those triangles. They were looking at the rings to try to notice patterns for the coordinates related to all the angles with a 6 in the denominator, etc. This so much easier for them to understand than just drawing the unit circle.”

6 Comments on “Take and Make: Mini Unit Circle”

  1. Hello, my name is Sergio Belmonte and I am currently the vice-president of the Museum of Mathematics of Catalonia (www.mmaca.cat). We work with hands-on materials and we are in a lot of national and international projects with the idea of promote maths to teachers, scholars and everyone from a non formal education point of view. We are collaborating also with MoMath, that you probably know (they even have got some materials from us, and we have some theirs). I am really interested in this material but we don’t have a laser to make it on our own, so…how can we get it? Thanks in advance and congratulations!

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    1. Hi Peter,
      I was able to get one of Dr. Larson’s large versions a couple years ago and then they stopped production. Last time I checked with Glenn (in Feb) he was anticipating making and marketing this summer. He and his team wrote some really nice lesson plans to accompany. As soon as I hear from him I’ll make an announcement. We are always happy to have more availability and support anyone working to get these designs to educators.

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