Daniel Scher, Ph.D., is a senior academic designer at McGraw-Hill Education. He has co-directed two NSF-funded projects: the Dynamic Number project and the Forging Connections project.

Four years ago, my colleague Scott Steketee and I began brainstorming new Sketchpad activities for a National Science Foundation grant called Dynamic Number. Our goal was to use Sketchpad to make ideas from number, operation, early algebra, and algebra come alive through interactive models that emphasized conceptual understanding. Continue Reading ››

As a fourth-grader in 1977, I had a love-hate relationship with my Addison-Wesley textbook. Its contents overflowed with arithmetic problems, but every so often an entertaining brainteaser appeared to break the monotony of drill practice. These puzzles were clearly marked: Each appeared in a box set aside from the main text and featured a bespectacled … Continue Reading ››

Tomoko Fuse is a Japanese origami artist whose designs are highly geometric. A Google search for her origami models reveals a plethora of boxes and intricate three-dimensional structures, many of which are folded from multiple sheets of … Continue Reading ››

In a recent blog post, Karen Greenhaus describes how it's possible to construct familiar corporate logos using Sketchpad. You might start with a rhombus, for example, and then reflect it twice to … Continue Reading ››

As a student, I didn’t place conic sections on my list of favorite high school topics. The standard textbook treatment of the ellipse, parabola, and hyperbola seemed uninspired. There were messy algebraic equations with multiple square roots. There was lots of terminology. Drawing a conic meant plotting several points on graph paper and connecting them with … Continue Reading ››

As an author of Sketchpad activities, I like to think that I can pose good problems for students to solve. But as I visit elementary classrooms and watch students use Sketchpad, I realize that a large part of the enjoyment they derive from using our software comes from creating their own problems and sharing them … Continue Reading ››

A quick quiz: How many fractions are there? This may sound like an absurd question, but in the context of elementary mathematics curricula, it makes a lot of sense. Think about it: Children encounter fractions like 1/2, 3/4, and 2/6 all the time, but do they ever see 1/100, 31/90, or 499/500? Unlikely. No brave soul … Continue Reading ››