The Geometry Forum: Constructing Geometry on the Internet - sum95

Geometry Forum Summer Institute - July 9-15, 1995

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Daily Summary
Friday, July 14, 1995

The weekend is rapidly approaching and so our workshop is drawing to a close. The official end is Saturday at noon, but keep an eye out for more information after that, as most participants are staying until Sunday.

I never could have imagined that so much could get done in a few days. On Friday, the projects were once again the main activity of the day. We finished going through the topics within the first project, and got some more good feedback from the group. People seem to be pretty happy with the general layout of all the pages, although we still hope to provide consistent options in each area.

Some proposed standard links:

  • WHY/WHERE'S THE MATH, to explain the mathematics behind applications, pictures, diagrams, etc.
  • NEWSGROUP DISCUSSION THREADS on that particular area of math
  • SOFTWARE, a direct link to software that's specifically useful
  • LESSON PLANS, within which there would be another standard structure including preparation, materials, goals, instructions, etc.

We also talked more about page etiquette. Project pages might have an "about this project" link that's available to explain what it is and that it's under construction, but isn't obtrusively there every time somebody looks at the page. We found it nice when you can reach some real juicy substance without having to search 3, 4 or 5 levels to get to it. Since you can't throw everything out there at once, resources will have to be filtered to the point where the greatest ones are listed at an early stage and the others can be reached through a "more options" button.

Professor Gene Klotz (the guy ultimately responsible for making all this happen, in case you didn't realize that) let us take a peek at his newest project. I'll have to get clearance from the boss before I divulge too many details. You'll just have to trust me for now when I tell you to be prepared for another blockbuster product to make its way out of Swarthmore College! (How's that, Gene?) Here's what he has to say about it on his Vectors Web Page:

Immediate goals

This is the first round--to be fired at workshop attendees the week of 7/10/95, assorted students, and colleagues. If there's anything that survives criticism, I'll paste it back together and make it into a Web >page for the Forum.

If I get ambitious, I may make a page on LINES, CHILDREN OF VECTORS.

This is a modest experiment in the pedagogical possibilities of some modern technology:

  • the World Wide Web has hypermedia capabilities which allow nonlinear use of documents of all types,
  • the geometry program used has some nice internal possibilities for unveiling, animating, and tabulating, in addition to its celebrated dynamic capabilities.

This is supplementary material to help students with their first encounter with vectors. I'm aiming for visceral understanding rather than a rigorous logical presentation, and this may lead me into troubles, e.g. chasing imaginary problems when clear simplicity would cut through better.

What you need

Explorations are conducted with an interactive program, The Geometer's Sketchpad Version 3. You can download a demo version from the Forum that will do the trick. You also have to set your Web browser to use Sketchpad as a helper application.

The Vector Discussion Group

I don't claim to have many answers as to how to use the Web and Sketchpad as pedagogical tools, but I'm hoping that this page will engender experiments and discussions which will bring us all to a better understanding. I very much welcome your criticisms and suggestions.

To facilitate discussion, there's a "local newsgroup" attached to this page. The software (developed by some of my Forum Folks) allows us to keep various discussion topics threaded together for good organization. It also allows you to post HTML pages, so that you can give alternative versions or provide live links to other sources.

Eric Sasson

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July 1995