Tag Archives: Problem Solving

Pythagoras Plugged In

If there were an award for 'Mathematical Theorem Most Amenable to a Visual Proof,'  the Pythagorean Theorem would surely win. The title of this post is a nod to the Sketchpad activity module Pythagoras Plugged In by Dan Bennett. Dan's book contains 18 visual, interactive proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem. And there are more:  The Pythagorean … Continue Reading ››

A Mathematical Mystery Story with Web Sketchpad

Several years ago, I wrote a blog post about the value that students derive from writing mathematics with Sketchpad. The post included an example of a simple Logo iteration, easily implemented in Sketchpad, that produces some very complex and interesting shapes depending on the values of several input parameters. In the article* where … Continue Reading ››

An Equivalent Fractions Game

In my recent posts, I've introduced interactive models for comparing fractions and multiplying fractions. To continue the fraction theme, below is a Web Sketchpad model in which the need for equivalent fractions arises naturally through the rules of a game. The model displays two arrays. Dragging the four points changes the arrays' dimensions. The goal is to drag blue squares into the blue array … Continue Reading ››

Understanding Fraction Multiplication

Last week, Scott and I attended a fraction symposium at NYU, and it made me realize how long it's been since I've written about our Sketchpad work with fractions. Below is a Web Sketchpad model for displaying and solving fraction multiplication problems. Representing fraction multiplication with an area model is a common approach, but it's challenging to sort … Continue Reading ››

A Coordinate Plane Logic Puzzle

For the past few years, Scott Steketee and I have collaborated with the author team of Everyday Mathematics to integrate Web Sketchpad deeply into their curriculum. As part of that work, I just completed a websketch that nicely mixes practice with logical reasoning. Students are challenged to find a hidden treasure on the coordinate … Continue Reading ››

Putting the Power of a Point Theorem to Work

The power of a point theorem is one of the more surprising results in elementary geometry. The theorem says that if two chords AB and CD of a circle intersect at point P, then the product AP · PB is equal to the product CP · PD. You can see an illustration of this theorem in the Web Sketchpad model below. Drag points … Continue Reading ››

Tailoring Tools to the Task

In years past, my colleagues and I at Key Curriculum conducted Sketchpad professional development workshops for teachers. One of our favorite activities challenged participants to  construct a rhombus in as many different ways as possible. This assignment invariably led to great discussions because there are a multitude of ways to build a rhombus, and each method highlights its … 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 ››

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 ››