Thursday, February 18, 2010

Seeing the Language of the Universe Through GeoGebra

Galileo once said:
The universe cannot be read until we have learnt the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language, and the letters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which means it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word.
Good stuff. Think back on the post Math Illiteracy and this becomes pretty distressing.

In all honesty, I was never much of a geometry guy. I like algebra and math modeling, but have generally avoided geometry, which has always seemed like stuff that was either obvious or magic. I never wanted to teach it because I never felt like I had a good enough intuitive feel for the content that I could convey to anyone else.

In the past several years, some software has helped me see the light of Galileo's wisdom. First, I liked Geometer's Sketchpad, but now I am digging some new (and free) software called GeoGebra. I think it is really cool stuff. If I had GeoGebra at my disposal when I was a teacher, I would have begged to teach Geometry. Software like this really makes the ideas of math come alive. Install it and give it a try. When you actually engage with the content, you can see beyond the onerous two-column proofs and begin to understand the language of which Galileo was speaking.

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