When you are in 7th or 8th grade, this is usually the time in your school career where you are first introduced to what will become one of your greatest resources over the rest of your math career, the graphing calculator. Texas Instruments is the leader in the field and most students come into class with the standard TI-83 Plus calculator that has the ability to graph functions for you. Other, more fancy, students come to class with the white TI-84 calculator, but we all know that the cool guys are the ones that use the old classic black TI. With these calculators, it takes away that weird graph paper that you probably never even cared to buy (because it is a unnecessarily specific type of paper that has no other use and just looks weird when you try to use it as regular paper) and you now get to type things easily into the keys and see that graph come out perfectly in front of you. You can even plot a bunch of individual points manually and have the calculator do the heavy lifting of finding a line that represents the correlation of the data.
One of the other things that you might notice when you look at these calculators are the three strange words that appear above the numbers. These three letter terms are things you have probably never seen before. Admittedly, I was a little confused why my calculator needed a tan button. I would have happily left it out in the sun if it had just asked. No, these are not sin, cos, and tan, they are the abbreviations of sine, cosine, and tangent, three of the key terms of trigonometry. This is all stuff that you can learn from geometry tutors or private trigonometry tutors, but I will give you a quick overview of what you can expect before you go in.
Each of these functions is represented by a different ratio of the sides of a right triangle. Treating a function as if it is the hypotenuse of a triangle coming out of the graph helps to create the right triangle that you will look at. The three sides of the triangle are the hypotenuse, which is the diagonal line that is opposite the right angle, the adjacent line, which is the line joining the hypotenuse with the angle, and the opposite, which is opposite the hypotenuse. Sine is the opposite over the hypotenuse, cosine is the adjacent over the hypotenuse, and the tangent is the opposite over the adjacent. You will also learn about secants, cosecants, and cotangents, which are the inverses of the sine, cosine, and tangent. The cosecant is the inverse of the sine, so it is hypotenuse over opposite, the secant is the inverse of the cosine, so it is hypotenuse over adjacent, and the cotangent is the inverse of the tangent, so it is adjacent over opposite. All of this is a big old mess, but these are the basics of trigonometry that you will learn and once you get them, you will realize that the rest of the concepts flow pretty naturally after that.
You might think that all of this triangle studying is something that is insanely specific. Who in the world is going to constantly need to tell you the ratios of sides of triangles. Obviously, using these formulas with the Pythagorean theorem, you can use partial information to solve for the unknowns, but all of that seems like very specialized work. Well, one of the fields that uses trigonometry a lot is in astronomy. We are not able to measure the distance between stars because we are so far away and have limited perspective, but we are able to make inferences based on the information that we do have. For example, knowing the distance between Earth and Pluto and knowing the distance between Earth and Neptune, you might be able to calculate the distance between Neptune and Pluto. This gets more complex and important as we start pushing out to the far reaches of space.
In finding trigonometry tutors near me, you should seek the person that gets you the right angle on the material. At some point, you will be the one angling for an A.