Exploratorium
Height Site
Using Your Inclinometer
 

After you make an inclinometer, you can use it to measure how high something is.

What Do I Need?
   
An inclinometer
Something tall to measure
Pencil or pen
Paper
A tape measure or yard stick to measure distance in centimeters
A copy of the Height Calculator Grid
   

Person looking through inclinometer tube
What Do I Do?
Step 1

Look through the end of the tube that sticks out from the card. You can look through the tube or sight along the top of the tube. It’s your choice.

Step 2
Look at something that’s at eye level. Ask a friend to read the angle where the string crosses the protractor. If your inclinometer is level, the string should cross the protractor at about 0 degrees.

Person looking through inclinometer tube with inclinometer tipped up.Step 3
Look through the tube at the top of something tall. If you are indoors, look at something that’s near the ceiling. Ask your friend to read the angle where the string crosses the protractor.
    

When you look at something above your head, the inclinometer tilts. The string crossing the protractor marks the angle of the tilt of the inclinometer. Take a few steps toward the tall thing and check the angle on your inclinometer again. What happens to the angle on your inclinometer?

Step 4
Rather than having your friend read the angle for you, look through the tube and pinch the string against the card to hold it in place. Then take the tube away from your eye and read the angle on the protractor. Have your friend watch you do this and tell you if you move the string and change the angle. Try this a few times, until you can do it without changing the angle.


Step 5
Choose something tall to measure.

Step 6
Look at the top of the object through your inclinometer and determine what angle your inclinometer measures. Write down this angle.

Step 7
Measure how far it is (in centimeters) from where you are standing to the base of the object. Write down this distance.

Step 8
Have a friend measure how far it is from the floor to your eye level. Write down this distance.

Step 9
Follow the instructions on the Height Calculator Grid.

 

 


Height Calculator Grid

 


For tips on how to use this trick with a class or group, go to the Teacher/Leader
version
.
 
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