alice in summerland

learning and teaching math in alice

Matrix Monday

I started off the day by reading some papers from the 2009 Alice Symposium held at Duke.

The player correctly guessed that the left side is greater than the right.

Then I skimmed the first chapters in “Pre-Algebra” by McDougal Littell to find some ideas for concepts to cover in Alice worlds. One of the first concepts I came across that could be easily expressed in Alice was inequalities, and using the >, =, and < signs. Thus, I built a program/”game” where students are asked to click on the “>” button if what is on the left side of a balance is greater then what is on the right side, the “=” if they are equal, and the “<” sign if the right side is greater. Using the same method each time, I present several examples, including soccer balls, tortoises, integers, decimals, addition, multiplication, and division.

The beginning setup for a matrix multiplication problem.

I then created a world to help students learn how to add, subtract, and multiply matrice. At the bottom I provide a place for the user to do explicit calculations, rather than just in his head, To find the first element in the answer matrix in the picture, for example, the user would need to click 3, then 5, then 2, then 1, and these numbers would go into the equation in the bottom and then ask for the answer of 3*5+2*1. Adding the animation has been complicated, so I would need to include a starting world if I were to make a tutorial for this one, or I could just use it as an example world. When it’s finished, I really think it will be a good tool for students to use to learn how to perform these operations on matrices.

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2 Comments»

  Lisa Ishii wrote @

Your ideas are amazing! This is really a fantastic way to incorporate programming to help kids learn math. In addition to being visually entertaining, the program is a great way to keep students engaged. Great job Mel!!

Out of curiosity, what’s the language ya’ll used?

  aliceinsummerland wrote @

Thanks love!! We’re using Alice- it’s really easy to learn and use especially for visual/animation purposes, and the code is basically just a drag-and-drop version of Java. You can download it for free here: http://www.alice.org/index.php?page=downloads/download_alice2.2


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