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Topic: Towers of Hanoi Applet
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Subject:   Towers of Hanoi Applet
Author: Julee
Date: Feb 14 2004
I have used an activity with Towers of Hanoi with my gemoetry classes when we
are studying patterns.  I have done it using the fisher price ring toy for
little kids.  

I am sorry to see the different color rings eliminated in the virtual version.
My experience was that many students were better able to follow the action be
keeping track of what certain colors do and how they behave.  

I noticed that the suggested materials for this applet focus only on the lowest
number of moves for a certain number of rings.  Of course it can be just as
valuable to encourage students to write about the pattern used to actually move
the rings.  This is much easier to note when the rings are different colors.

One definite benefit to the applet is keeping track of the number of moves.
When doing it with the class it was easy to lose track.  I was sorry that an
undo button is not part of the program.  For students to really be able to
investigate to find the best pattern to move the rings, we don't really want
them to have to start over each time.  

Also, I noticed that the applet tells the user when the lowest possible number
of moves have been achieved.  The earlier applet versions seem to just let the
student continue forever with not indication of whether they have achieved the
task so the message of completion is encouraging.

However, I would rather have a separate button to find out if it is the optimal
number.  This way the students can use the tool to explore and come up with
conjectures as to why they believe their pattern is optimal.  As it is
programmed, they automatically find out if their solution is best, missing out
on an additional learning opportunity.  

Having the applet on the computer is great for having each student experiment
and correctly follow the rules for the problem.  I always had to have the entire
class engage in the exploration with one tower.  Now each individual can

Julee Lee

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