Monday, November 28, 2011

Turntable Trig

Today we experimented with using iPads in a math class.  We had 3 school-owned iPads as well as one brought in by a student.  Students used the Vernier Video Physics app in groups of two or three to review and investigate trig graphs.

[caption id="attachment_320" align="alignleft" width="222" caption="Turntable Graph"][/caption]

Ms. Flaherty first reviewed a couple of math concepts that the students had already  reviewed as part of their homework by watching a YouTube clip.  Then I demonstrated how to use the various tools built into the Video Physics app to plot the points of a sticky note as it travels around a Fisher Price Turntable, and to set the scale and change the location of the origin.  From there, we handed off the iPads to the students and away they went.

Once students plotted the path of the sticky note, and viewed the resulting graph, they then worked through the following prompts:

  1.  Find the equation of your curve.

  2. How does the equation change as you change the A.) origin, B.) scale?

  3. By adjusting the position of the origin and the scale crate a graph that has:  A.) An amplitude of 5  B.) A wave axis of 10


Findings, Thoughts, Reflections:



  • Students were engaged in the hands-on learning, and shared the device appropriately around the group so that everyone got a chance to manipulate the data.

  • Students are really comfortable with iPads.  They took to the app quickly and were easily able to use the gestures to perform specific tasks within the app.

  •  Investigative Math rocks.  I wish that when I was learning math I had had access to the tools that students have today.  Changing different variables and seeing how that affects the output helps students get a better understanding than just working out problems.

  • Personal devices are better than school-owned devices.  When the teacher asked students to send her the files this became obvious.  The student who was using his own device easily emailed a few photos to the teacher because his email was already set up in the iPad's system.  Web versions of email (we tried gmail) don't allow attaching files from an iPad because they don't know how to navigate the iPad file system.  The work around is to either attach the ipad to a laptop and use iPhoto (or another photo app on a PC) to pull down the images, or have students enter their email info into the iPad system, send the files, then delete the account before the class ends and their email account and ipad are handed off to another student.