The Math Forum: 1998 Summer Institute - sum98

July 6-11, 1998 - Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

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1998 Summer Institute || Participant Projects || List of Participants || Sum98 Staff || Agenda
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July 7: Day 2

After a brief discussion on some of the logistics of the program, the sum98 group trekked over to the Trotter lab to begin day two of the Math Forum Advanced Summer Institute.

Following some time working on individual projects, Ken provided some solutions to formatting math on the Internet. Ken embraced typesetting in ASCII text as a skill worth learning. Tips he mentioned included:

  1. if you are using HTML tags, make sure that they are standard tags so that the audience will be able to render them;
  2. for exponents, it may be better to use carets because font size and spacing can vary;
  3. some students may create notation that they explicitly define - for example, Annie mentioned that she had seen a student define two capital T's (TT) to represent pi.

Ken's second technique is to use a program (such as Graphing Calculator, a standard program on Macs) that captures appropriate output and then use that image. His third suggestion is to use Equation Editor, which can be pasted in to text using FlashIt, clip2gif, or any graphics program, as he demonstrated. Steve suggested altering the font in Equation Editor to help with spacing in the text.

Using Java and plug-ins were two other ideas mentioned. Plug-ins may be best in the situation where the main audience is a classroom that can easily download the software.

Steve then encouraged the participants to explore some of techniques mentioned.


During the next session, Dave discussed using forms to build a web page. A form can be used to collect information from web users in an organized fashion. It is not necessary to have rights to file transfer protocol (FTP). The basic idea, as Steve mentioned, is to start using a form by copying the source of an example and then adapting it to fit your own purposes.

To see how any of the example form pages were built, go to "View" and scroll down to "Page Source"; Becky <becky@mathforum.org> and Sorelle <sorelle@mathforum.org> annotated them, and along with Dave <kersh@mathforum.org> remain available for assistance with forms throughout the week of the Institute.

Dave reviewed several of his example pages to demonstrate the use of check boxes, radio buttons, and text fields. Steve mentioned to be careful of which interface to use - for example, radio buttons can't be substituted for a check list. Bob Panoff noted that providing default values in text fields helps students to see what kind of input is expected in that field. Several offshoots of a form page are the logfile, the returnfile, a template, and a log directory (see "A form that uses a template").

After a quick lunch, the participants returned to continue work on individual projects. Margaret Sinclair then led the group through a classroom activity. She first passed out questions for participants to answer. We were divided into groups to complete the questionnaires. After each individual answered the questions (measuring in centimeters, with much jumping up and down and energetic situps around the sides of the room), we were split into four subgroups (A and C, B and D, E and G, F and H), and each of the four groups got one of the subgroups of questions and responses to analyze.

Margaret noted that this activity lends itself nicely to speadsheet and group work. Participants decided on and then drew up different kinds of graphs to represent the data. Afterwards, participants discussed how the web could facilitate this kind of data collecting activity, resulting in an ongoing discussion thread in geometry-institutes.

Back in the computer lab, Annie discussed using JavaSketchpad (JSP) on the Internet. Annie noted that JSP is useful in animations of geometric figures. For example, as she demonstrated, students can investigate properties of polygons (by varying angles and sides) without destroying the basic structure of the polygon. With JSP, you can put the figure in Sketchpad, put it on the Internet, and all the student needs to access it is a Java-enabled browser.

Annie encouraged participants to reference the JSP site when JSP is used.

- Betsy Teeple and Richard Tchen, The Math Forum

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