Show and Tell for Big Kids by Margaret Sinclair

Math Units: Contents || Student Center || Teachers' Place

Instead of requiring my senior students to do an essay on a math topic, I tried the following activity-based independent study. The students loved it! We used the last few days of the course to present the demonstrations. It gave them an overview of what computers can be used for in mathematics, ensured that they had some time using one piece of software, allowed them to venture into the online math environment, and was lots of fun.

Software

My students used The Geometer's Sketchpad, Maple, and a spreadsheet called Aseasy 5.7. Other possibilities are Mathematica, MathView, JavaSketchpad, Mathcad, and many spreadsheets, the most available of which are probably MsWorks, ClarisWorks and Microsoft Excel.

Directions

Work in the lab 4 days:

• either after school - I will be available every Tuesday and Thursday in May
• or at lunch, by appointment

Investigate one of the following topics on the computer with a partner:

• Using the Geometer's Sketchpad to create tesselations
• Using the Scripting tool in Sketchpad to create the Koch snowflake and other fractals
• Creating ellipses and hyperbolas through animation using Sketchpad
• Polar graphs with Maple
• Graphs of planes, cylinders, and/or spheres using Maple
• Linear transformations using a spreadsheet
• Polar graphs on a spreadsheet
• Recursive relationships using a graphics calculator
• Using the CBL to collect data from a light source and determine the equation of the resulting curve.
• Famous curves: for example, the cycloid and the witch of Agnesi
• The Sierpinski triangle using Sketchpad or a graphics calculator
• The relationship between Euler's line and the 9 point circle using Sketchpad
• Construct sine and cosine wave tracers using Sketchpad
• Three proofs of the Pythagorean theorem using Sketchpad

This list is not exhaustive. If there is a topic you would like to pursue, please see me.

On the last two days of class be prepared to present a three-minute demonstration of your findings using the computer. In the demonstration explain briefly what your project is about and show how the computer program helped in investigating.

Hand in a disk, to include the animation/graph/sketch and a brief explanation of the mathematics involved.

Evaluation

The project will be assessed as follows:

• attendance at lab sessions - 25%
• your presentation - 50%: The presentation will be evaluated as to creativity, organization, accuracy, and ability to communicate clearly.
• handin - 25%: This will be evaluated on its clarity and ability to explain the mathematics underlying your project.

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