Categories: Tian Gao
Tags: activity, Defibrillator, Doyle, Geometry, IBM Watson, math, motion tracking software, Pythagorean Theorem, Skateboarder, Tian Gao
Here are some of the highlights from later half of the semester:
1. Skateboarder software: we brought kids to computer lab for an exploration on the Skateboarder software. It is basically a software where user uses mathematical functions to define the path of a skateboarder will travel. After we explained some of the basic concepts and a set of concrete instruction at the beginning, we let students to play it around. The results are pretty amazing. some girl was able to put a bunch of skateboarders inside a circle path and definitely won the “Who can keep skateboarder moving longest” competition. While some of the math concepts are beyond 7th grade, like some of sine and cosine curve functions, kids are eager to explore them and I had the opportunity to explain them.
2. IBM Watson Supercomputer: due to the supercomputer fever, I decided to show some clips introducing the IBM Watson and how it works and beginning of the actual jeopardy competition, time-allowing. Some of the students heard of it, but most students had vague, if not none, knowledge of it. It was a fun class that I was able to explain the basic difference between IBM Watson and Google Search. It was also related to my research and I actually went to a talk about this supercomputer, and as a result I actually know a lot about it and we were able to discuss how it actually works. It was also fun to watch these students watching the clips in admiration. I wish there is a new breakthrough technology every now and then so I can show them to the students.
3. Geometry and Pythagorean Theorem: geometry is one math topic where students can actually visualize the shapes and volumes. In addition to some activities that Julia usually uses to teach class, we found a cartoon book about the life of Pythagoras. Although it is mostly fictional, it inspires kids on how Pythagoras discovers the concept of Pythagorean Theorem. Kids take turns to read part of the stories and it was a great integration of English and Math. After the story, we asked students to show the Pythagorean Theorem by reorganizing the several pieces of 2 squares to form a larger square. It was fun. For honor math class, I challenged them one more step and showed the easiest proof of Pythagorean Theorem. I was aiming for a few students to be able to follow it but a lot more asked a lot of questions about the proof that is far beyond what they have learned so far. I was surprised and really glad that they are actually interested in the proof.
4. A Real Demo of Math and Engineering: after several hectic weeks preparing for the state exam, I was finally able to give a great example on what I wanted to do for a long time: to show that Math is important everywhere. I was looking for something that students are interested and can be used to show the math going into the design and everything else. Taking suggestion from Ron, I contacted RPI Public Safety Outreach Program and an officer, David Jordan, nicely agreed to do a live demo on how to use a defibrillator in Doyle Middle School. Then I explained some of design decision using 7th grade math, which is quiet a challenge to say the least! It was exciting class to see kids want to learn how defibrillator works and why it works. The assumption that defibrillator would attract their attention because girls want to help people while boys like things that can “shock” people is sound! Some kids from other classes also joined the presentations. Overall, it was a great success.
during research week, I gave a presentation on the my research and the software we have been developing. Here is a screenshot in current stage:
Julia and I discussed the potential usage of the motion tracking software. We decided to spit the program into several and each covers a specific topics so we can do more with it. I am working to include more gesture, especially fun gestures, in the software so kids will like it. Stay tuned as we work hard on it!
That’s all for all. Looking forward to the new semester!