All posts by Daniel Scher

Daniel Scher, Ph.D., is a senior scientist at KCP Technologies. He co-directed the NSF-funded Dynamic Number project ( He has developed Sketchpad activities across the entire mathematics curriculum, from elementary school through college. He received his Ph.D. in Mathematics Education at New York University.

The Dynamic Ebbinghaus Illusion

We've all seen amazing examples of illusions, but did you know that there is a fertile community of researchers creating new ones? The Best Illusion of the Year contest and website provide a showcase for celebrating illusions. This year's winner for best illusion was created by Christopher D. Blair, Gideon P. Caplovitz, and … Continue Reading ››

The Brouwer Fixed Point Theorem

According to Wikipedia, the Brouwer Fixed Point Theorem, named after mathematician and philosopher Luitzen Brouwer, states that "for any continuous function f mapping a compact convex set into itself, there is a point x0 such that f(x0) = x0. This is a deep theorem,  but one aspect of it is lovely, surprising, and entirely approachable by high-school geometry … Continue Reading ››

Danny’s Ellipse

In the early 1990s, Danny Vizcaino, a high school student at Monte Vista High School in California, wrote to Key Curriculum Press noting that Sketchpad did not come with a tool to draw an oval. Undaunted by this omission, Danny had built his own oval with the software and shared it with Key's editors. As shown in the interactive … Continue Reading ››

Logic Puzzles Made Visual

When I was child, I loved to solve the brainteasers in logic puzzle magazines. You probably know the type: Ruth, Phyllis, and Joan each bought a different kind of fruit (orange, apple, pear) and a different vegetable (spinach, kale, carrots) at the supermarket. No one bought both an orange and carrots. Ruth didn't buy an apple or kale.Continue Reading ››

The Flying Squirrel-Frog Puzzle

While I enjoy reading The New York Times for its news coverage, I especially look forward to each Monday when they post a new math puzzle online in their Numberplay column. Several months ago, I shared a Numberplay puzzle from former Key Curriculum editor Dan Bennett. Now I'd like to recap the Numberplay puzzle … Continue Reading ››

Covering Your Bases: An Interactive Dials Model

There are certain topics in mathematics education not appropriate for polite discussion. Number bases other than 10 fit this category well, perhaps because of their association with the maligned "new math" of the 1960s. That's a shame because there is a lot to learn from them, especially when presented as interactive puzzles. Below are eight dials, each with … Continue Reading ››

The Return of the Odometer

In my prior post, I presented an interactive Web Sketchpad odometer that is a great tool for introducing young learners to place value. Well, technology moves fast these days, and the latest odometers are more powerful than ever. While our prior odometer featured '+' buttons above each digit, our newest innovation in number-tracking technology features  '+' and … Continue Reading ››