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Day 3 Math Forum Advanced Summer Institute
Posted:
Jul 9, 1998 12:42 PM


The participants started a rainy day 3 of the Math Forum Advanced Summer Institute in connections, and then on individual projects.
Dave then spoke on some uses of Javascript and Dynamic HTML (http://forum.swarthmore.edu/workshops/sum98/js.explain.html). He began by explaining that Javascript and Java differ: Javascript was created by Netscape with the purpose of augmenting HTML, whereas Java was created by Sun MicroSystems. Javascript is useful for the valuation of data in input forms. Dave encouraged the participants to adapt any of the examples available (http://forum.swarthmore.edu/workshops/sum98/script.html), copying and pasting source code. He noted, in the checklist function, checkChecker(), that the first line reads
thevalue = document.forum.list1.selectedIndex;
"list1" refers to the name of the given to the pulldown list code, so it should be changed accordingly. Dave also mentioned a few other sites for examples of Javascript code (http://forum.swarthmore.edu/workshops/sum98/js.examples.html). To see an example of one participant's work with forms, view Rob Rumppe's online quiz (http://forum.swarthmore.edu/workshops/sum98/participants/rumppe/BSQuizTopFrame.html).
Following Dave's session, Bob Panoff demonstrated some the Shodor Foundation's work. Project Interactivate (http://www.shodor.org/interactivate/) explores fractals by iterating line deformations, providing a tool for teaching pattern recognition and selfsimilarity (http://www.shodor.org/interactivate/applets/). The Project Interactivate lessons are organized into three segments: "What?" asks questions to be investigated; "How?" explains the how to use the applet; and "Why?" develops other applications. In addition, there are lessons linked to the table of contents of several math texts (http://www.shodor.org/interactivate/toc.html). He began with a paper and pencil exercise, where participants drew a line with a simple "kink" in it and then successively replaced each segment with the same kink to the scale of that segment. Bob noted that this exercise becomes tedious quickly and thus defined the point where using applets becomes beneficial. In one example, Bob demonstrated three fractals, each of which differed only slightly from the other at the outset; when iterated, however, they resulted in very different images  the perimeter of the first approaching infinite length but enclosing finite area, the second copying over itself, the last one increasingly spacefilling. He drew qualitative parallels from these three illustrations of "sensitivity to initial conditions" to the regeneration of healthy skin, the growth of a benign tumor, and the spread of a malignant tumor, respectively. Bob requested feedback on the pages, particularly on how to expand and clarify the "What?" and "Why?" segments. The participants suggested adding information that links the explorations to real world uses (such as the three examples above), developing exercises that require more participation from the students (similar to Sketchpad), and organizing feedback with annotations so that others may view some participant results.
After lunch, Judy discussed developing effective online units. She finds that, in particular, listing a table of contents and background information (such as target age groups) speed navigation. When inserting applets, it helps students to see instructions alongside the applet. Here, Bob noted that applets can be more easily available to several links when they stand alone. Ron Knott and Suzanne Alejandre then demonstrated some of their online work on Fibonacci numbers (http://www.mcs.surrey.ac.uk/Personal/R.Knott/Fibonacci/fibpuzzles.html) and "traffic jam" (http://www.rialto.k12.ca.us/school/frisbie/coyote/math/jam.html) respectively.
In the next session, Nicole and Tushar introduced displaying Mathematica, Maple, and Mathview notebooks on the Web (http://forum.swarthmore.edu/spimsow/). Users can rotate graphs and change equations to experiment with graphs already created. Of the three, Mathview, which requires a plugin (http://www.maplesoft.com/www/mathview.html), is the least powerful, but also the least expensive and most interactive. To put a Maple notebook on web pages, generate the notebook in Maple and save it as an HTML file. Maple will then create three Maple HTML files and a graphics file, which must be uploaded through FTP. To see Mathematica on the web, download the application helper Math Reader (http://www.wolfram.com). Nicole and Tushar noted that with Maple and Mathematica notebooks, it is not possible to create an interactive environment. For more on implementing math software on the web, view their example notebooks (http://forum.swarthmore.edu/spimsow/notebooks.html), read their synopsis of comparisons (http://forum.swarthmore.edu/spimsow/synopsis.html), or email them directly at <nicole@forum.swarthmore.edu> and <parlikar@forum.swarthmore.edu>, respectively.
Steve then began the conversation about building online community (http://forum.swarthmore.edu/workshops/sum98/build_community.html). After looking at several online discussion communities, participants moved upstairs to have a facetoface discussion, a running record of which appears in a <geometryinstitutes> thread and has seeded some discussion (http://forum.swarthmore.edu/epigone/geometryinstitutes/panflenclum).
Betsy Teeple and Richard Tchen



