Can Trigonometry Save Christmas?

Have you ever had a Clark Griswold moment of taking home the perfect Christmas tree only to find that it’s too big for the living room? Math teacher Beth Gilmartin and the Geometry Honors class are here to help.

On Friday, Ms. Gilmartin and her students tested their trigonometry skills by calculating the height of the KUA Christmas tree. If you want to ensure that your star doesn’t hit your ceiling, try the following steps: 
  1. Find a clinometer (a tool that measures a slope angle) and a tape measure.
  2. Measure the distance from a person to the base of the tree.
  3. Measure the angle of elevation to the top of the tree from the person's eyes. 
  4. Measure how high the person's eyes are off the ground. 
  5. Multiply the tangent ratio for the angle of elevation by the distance from the tree and then add the height of the person's eyes. 
In case you’re wondering, the KUA tree measures at 12.8’ high. The official tree lighting takes place Friday, December 13 at 9:30 p.m. on the quad.


Kimball Union Academy

603-469-2000  · 603-469-2040 (fax)  ·
Founded in 1813, Kimball Union Academy is one of the oldest private boarding high schools in New Hampshire and the country. KUA blends the best of the New England boarding tradition with an innovative, modern educational program for a diverse group of day and boarding students from across the country and around the world. Located in Meriden, New Hampshire in the heart of the Upper Valley, Kimball Union is minutes from Dartmouth College and has direct access to Boston and New York.