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Topic: More useful than I first thought
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Subject:   More useful than I first thought
Author: Michael McKelvey
Date: Feb 18 2004
Applet URL:

At first when I saw this applet, I was completely confused.  I couldn't figure
out what I was supposed to do, nor why.  I hadn't read the corresponding lesson
plans, so I didn't know what to do.  I finally did look up info on what,
exactly, the problem we were trying to solve was, and then it made a whole lot
more sense.

This problem actually doesn't have as much rigorous math calculation behind it
as some other activities.  Instead, its goal is to improve number sense, which
is a generally overlooked, but extremely important part of math education.  It's
possible to solve this problem geometrically using a paper, pencil, and some
formulas.  This is of course important, but in the applet you don't have all the
numbers you would need, so you have to solve it a different way:
guess-and-check.  The applet actually *adds* something to this problem,
instead of just replacing the paper and pencil.  Because of the lack of numbers,
the emphasis is on understanding fractions rather than formulas.  Students must
be able to understand the effects of changing the numerator and denominator in
order to hone in on the right result.  At first I thought this applet was
pointless, but once I finally figured out what its point was, I began to see its


Posted for George Reese's C&I 336 class at the University of Illinois

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