The Art of Parametric Equations

Can mathematical curves be beautiful? Most certainly! Precalculus students glimpse the connection between mathematics and art when they graph roses, cardioids, limaçons, and lemniscates. But these curves give just a taste of the beauty that can be achieved when graphing equations. In a recent article from the online science magazine Quanta, Pradeep Mutalik reviews a gorgeous new math book, Creating … Continue Reading ››

Fine Tuning Web Sketchpad’s Construction Interface

When the Web Sketchpad team created the interface for tools, there were lots of design decisions to be made. We made the best choices we could at the time, but after months of daily use, it became clear that at least one aspect of tool functionality needed some rethinking. In the original design of tools (which you can … Continue Reading ››

Arranging Addends Puzzles Revisited

In a prior blog post, I introduced my new puzzle, Arranging Addends, that mixes arithmetic with logical thinking to create an engaging playground for mathematical discovery. Let’s revisit this puzzle and introduce some new variations. Take a look at the puzzle below (and here), built with Web Sketchpad. Your goal is to arrange the … Continue Reading ››

Creating Mosaics Inspired by a Pattern from Sultan Ahmed Mosque

Mirek Majewski was born in Poland and studied mathematics at the Nicholas Copernicus University in Poland with an M.S. and Ph.D. in non-classical geometries. He is a professor of mathematics and computer science at several universities – PNG University of Technology, Inter-University of Macau (now Saint Joseph University), Zayed University in United Arab Emirates, and New York … Continue Reading ››

Constructing an Ellipse with Web Sketchpad Tools

In a prior blog post, I described the pins-and-string approach to drawing an ellipse: Press two pins into a corkboard, place a loop of string around the pins, pull the string tight with a pencil, and trace the pencil tip's path as you pull the pencil around the taut string. Guaranteeing that the traced … Continue Reading ››

The Broken Stick Puzzle

Several weeks ago, my friend Martin shared the following probability puzzle with me: Two points are chosen independently and at a random on a stick. The stick is broken at those points to form three smaller sticks. What is the probability these three sticks can form a triangle? This is a classic problem, dating back to … Continue Reading ››

A Double Dissection from The New York Times

Did you know that aside from being a source of news, The New York Times is also the place to get your weekly fix of mathematics? Their online Numberplay column features some very clever math puzzles. Last year, in fact, our blog featured a Numberplay puzzle about a flying squirrel-frog from former Key Curriculum … Continue Reading ››

Zooming Integers: Magnifying the Number Line

In my prior post, I presented a "zooming" number line model that allowed students to estimate the location of a point along a number line and then repeatedly magnify that portion of the number line to obtain ever-finer estimates, accurate to tenths, hundredths, thousandths, and beyond. In a sense I got ahead of myself because I … Continue Reading ››

Zooming in on Place Value

One of the aspects I like best about Dynamic Geometry software like Web Sketchpad is its ability to illustrate concepts that cannot effectively be represented with static media. Take, for example, a number line that we draw on a white board. Showing the number line labeled with integers is easy. Adding tenth-mark divisions to the … Continue Reading ››

Exploring Triangle Area with Custom-Built Tools

With Web Sketchpad, it's easy to craft tools that are tailor made for the task at hand. I was reminded of this flexibility several weeks ago when creating an interactive model for the elementary curriculum Everyday Mathematics. My goal was to design a lesson focusing on the triangle area formula, A = bh/2. … Continue Reading ››

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