All posts by Scott Steketee

Scott Steketee taught secondary math and computer science in Philadelphia for 18 years and received the district's Teacher of Excellence award. Since 1992 he has worked on Sketchpad software, curriculum, and professional development for Key Curriculum Press and KCP Technologies. He also teaches Secondary Math Methods in the graduate teacher education program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Tribute to Zalman Usiskin

On November 6 I had the honor of being one of the panelists in a Symposium Honoring Zalman Usiskin, held to honor Zal’s many years of contributions to mathematics education, from his groundbreaking 1971 textbook Geometry: A Transformation Approach (GATA) to his continuing activities today. My panel was supposed to discuss his work on … Continue Reading ››

Pentaflake Chaos

Dan Anderson commented on my Pentaflake post to observe that the pentaflake can also be created by a random process, sometimes called the Chaos Game. In this game you start with an arbitrary point and dilate it toward a target point that's randomly chosen from some set … Continue Reading ››
pentflake

How do you make … a pentaflake?

A couple of days ago I got an email from my long-time friend Geri, who was spending some quality Sketchpad time with her 12-year-old grandson Niels. Geri emailed me for advice because Neils was having some trouble figuring out how to construct a pentaflake. Neither Geri nor Niels had any idea that I'd never even … Continue Reading ››

From Two Dimensions to One

In my last post, I provided some dilation challenges and linked to a Dilation Function Family activity. In that activity students manipulate independent and dependent variables, observe their relative rate of change, restrict the domain, and use meaningful function notation. This and similar activities involving “technologically embodied geometric functions” … Continue Reading ››

Dilation Challenges

For a while now, I’ve been intrigued by the ways in which the study of geometric transformations can provide students with a very effective introduction to function concepts. Daniel and I have written a couple of articles about this topic, and we created a number of activities to take advantage of what can arguably be … Continue Reading ››

Soccer Challenges: Angling for a Shot on Goal

With the World Cup in our hemisphere, and the US squad having started out with a win over Ghana, my thoughts turned to the mathematics of soccer. My friend Henri Picciotto has a nice page about the shooting angle, the angle within which a shot is on goal, so I thought of using … Continue Reading ››
parametric-sailboat

Create Parametric Curves Graphically and Kinesthetically

In this guest post, Nate Burchell describes a sketch he uses with his students to explore parametric functions. In this process students work entirely in a graphical world, manipulating graphs directly rather than by way of equations. (Nate teaches in Seoul, Korea, where I enjoyed his family's hospitality when I attended ICME in … Continue Reading ››

Sketchpad Explorer Featured in Mathematics Teacher

The May issue of Mathematics Teacher (MT) has a Technology Tips article on High-Leverage iPad Apps for the Mathematics Classroom by Ayanna Perry, Emily Thrasher, and HollyLynne Lee of North Carolina State University. They explain how to transfer files to student tablets, and they make a number of recommendations … Continue Reading ››

Understand the Sine Function by Dancing It

In Where Mathematics Comes From, cognitive scientists George Lakoff and Rafael Nuñez assert that our understanding of abstract mathematical concepts relies upon our sensory-motor experiences:

“For the most part, human beings conceptualize abstract concepts in concrete terms, using ideas and modes of reasoning grounded in the sensory-motor system. The mechanism by which the … Continue Reading ››

complex-iteration

Iteration in the Complex Plane

The cover story of the April 2014 issue of Mathematics Teacher is on "Iteration in the Complex Plane", by Robin S. O'Dell. It sounds like pretty advanced mathematics, but is surprisingly accessible with The Geometer's Sketchpad. It's all based on the surprising principle that you can multiply two complex numbers very easily if … Continue Reading ››