Thursday, March 12, 2009

Journal article review of : Bringing Math to Life written Tyson Tuchscherer

This article talks about mathematics courses are getting interpersonal with creative and interactive robots that students can use mathematics to reach students that are struggling with math. These little robots are called CalcBots and they can be personalized for each student, and very small and inexpensive. They are actually calculator programs that can be hooked up to a small race car like device and you can attach many devices to them to suite the students needs.
The students program the bots with equations and functions to do simple tasks, like measuring a distance, or something as complex as navigating a maze.
These little bots are highly interactive and according to the article many student success story's have came out of this experience. One girl in the article who had disciplinary problems was using two bots to create a synchronized dance routine. Another boy who was struggling with academic subjects discovered a new talent when he figured out how to program his bot to do search and rescue missions with a temperature probe mounted on the CalcBot. Even teachers are getting new tools to gain their students attention to subjects, and they are also teaching basic programing and math applications in the same lessons.

Q1: How are CalcBots helping students learn mathematics?

A1: These CalcBots help students learn mathematics by using equations and function commands to direct the control of the bot. But more importantly this type of tool shows a practical use for mathematics that the students can relate to and interact with. I know many students ask what the point of math is, when will they ever use what they learn. And that is a hard question to answer correctly to keep the students excited about math. These bots are perfect for showing a practical use for math that the students will be using in the future. Everyone will eventually need to have some basic understanding of programing in the future, and these bots help students learn equations that they need to know. Instead of doing pages of equations they can program a bot with those same equations and see a result of there math in front of them. And better yet they will self-correct their own math work because they want their bots to function correctly.

Q2: Could these CalcBots branch into other educational areas?

A2: I think you could have a very practical use for these bot in a physics class, working out force and acceleration equations, and many other physic problems. I know I would have liked to have these bots to use in my physics classroom, it one thing to be always doing imaginary problems with your imagination when instead you could use real life bots as part of the problem and the solution.
The only problem incorporating these bots into other areas would be the requirement of basic programing knowledge. But schools could work around that having that skill Incorporated into many classrooms so that the students are familiar with it and can expand their knowledge through further uses of CalcBots.

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