Tag Archives: Use Appropriate Tools Strategically

Dividing and Subdividing

Given a strip of paper, how might you divide it into fourths without using a ruler?  Undoubtedly, you'd fold the strip in half and then in half again to locate the quarter marks. Now suppose that your goal is to divide a strip into sixths. You might start by folding the strip into thirds and … Continue Reading ››

A Double Spiral from David Henderson

David Henderson, one of my two Cornell master's thesis advisors, died this past December. I wrote about David in a prior post, and in particular, his approach of asking us  to grapple with a small number of  rich problems, allowing us  to find our own, often non-traditional, … Continue Reading ››

What’s New with Web Sketchpad in 2019

For the past five years, Scott and I have featured interactive Web Sketchpad models in nearly all our Sine of the Times blog posts.  As much fun as it's been to build "websketches" to share with you, we've really wanted to put the creative power of Web Sketchpad into your hands. And now, finally, that's possible. Today … Continue Reading ››

Multiplication Is Not Repeated Addition

On the NCTM discussion site myNCTM, there's currently an extended discussion about "Division and multiplication of fractions." As the discussion has continued, I've grown concerned with what I see as a fundamental problem with the way we often introduce multiplication as repeated addition: "Multiplying 4 by 5 means we're combining five groups of four items. … Continue Reading ››

A Dynamic Approach to Finding Pirate Treasure

In his 1947 book, One, Two, Three...Infinity, physicist George Gamow poses a pirate treasure problem that has since become a classic. Below is my reworded statement of the puzzle.
Among a pirate's belongings you find the following note: The island where I buried my treasure contains a single palm tree. Find the tree. From the palm tree, … Continue Reading ››

The Scaled Maps Problem

Below are two maps of the United Sates, with the smaller map a 50 percent scaled copy of the original. The edges of the two maps are parallel. Imagine that the maps are printed out, with one resting on top of the other. Believe it or not, you can stick a pin straight through both maps … Continue Reading ››

Binomial Multiplication and Concreteness Fading

I was delighted that Daniel recently posted our Binomial Multiplication sketches in Web Sketchpad format. I thought about those sketches when I noticed a fairly new myNCTM thread on "When and How do we phase out the body in math education?" This thread raises a very important question for us as … Continue Reading ››

Enhancing Web Sketchpad

As a longtime Sketchpad fan, one of the most interesting features of Web Sketchpad (WSP) for me is the way its behavior can be customized. WSP makes it possible to add JavaScript to a web page in order to interact directly with objects in the sketch. For instance, a JavaScript function could use the locations … Continue Reading ››

Digging Deep Into Varignon’s Theorem

In the interactive websketch below (and here on its own page), ABCD is an arbitrary quadrilateral whose midpoints form quadrilateral EFGH. Drag any vertex of ABCD. What do you notice about EFGH? The midpoint quadrilateral theorem, attributed to the French mathematician Pierre Varignon, is relatively new in the canon of geometry theorems, dating to 1731. Mathematics educator Chris Pritchard … Continue Reading ››