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Free geometry tools...
Posted:
May 2, 2008 11:31 PM


For those of you lucky enough to have one flatscreen and keyboard per child, this might be especially interesting, but also if you share computers and/or just project:
Python + VPython, both free and open source projects, from python.org and vpython.org respectively, will let your students deliver moving pictures to the screen based on very few instructions involving the concepts we're supposed to be teaching (e.g. sine, cosine, radians, degrees), and in a concise computer language with job market value, so easy to prove relevance (as in "what will we use this for??").
Example: the code below is sufficient to produce a lissajous curve, with just a few lines omitted (click plaintext view in web archive interface to see original indentation):
def lissa(): # you could make a, b arguments if you want """ Lissajous curves:
Other ideas of a, b http://www.2dcurves.com/higher/higherli.html """ a = 3.0 b = math.pi/2
for t in range(360 * 4): # 0360 degrees * cycles x = math.sin(math.radians(t)) y = math.sin(a * math.radians(t) + b) ball = sphere(pos=(x, y, 0), radius=0.1, color = color.orange)
rate(100)
That might look intimidating at first, and it is, somewhat, so if you're looking for topics for inservice training, the gov wants you to have more of it anyways, so why not enjoy the ride?
Python + VPython is a fun dynamic duo, will cost your school nothing, except for the time and effort of downloading and installing. Apprenticing students might help with that, do in our flagships.
YouTube of VPython: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXCPDsBN2Kc
Re: 2D plotting capabilities: http://mybizmo.blogspot.com/2008/04/plottingwithvpython.html
Kirby 4D



