APPLYING
MATH PRINCIPLES
TO CREATE GRAPHICS
Project URL: www.teachersnetwork.org/teachnetusa/knorth/math.htm
How
it works:
In this program, students use a simple, free programming environment, DrScheme,
which provides a library of programming commands that enable them to
create graphics to make clip art for enhancing Web
pages. The graphics have a unique look and are simple, clean, and have
a very small file size for fast loading. These graphics use the basic drawing tools of a
line, rectangle, and circle. The students learn to plan their design using these basic shapes
by
drawing an object on graph paper, plotting
key positions of the object, and then studying the relationship of one
point to another. They learn to use the basic drawing commands for a
circle, a rectangle, and a line in the creation of a picture. The
circle uses parameters for the center point, the radius, and the color.
Students, guided in the use of functions and patterns, make the
connection that the first parameter in a rectangle is the position of
the corner, the next argument is the horizontal length, then the
height, and last the color. By sketching their balloons with strings and
plotting the needed data on graph paper, students are able to write
the code that creates the picture.
This
procedure serves as a reference to "walk" students through
the process. It takes about one hour with an interactive demo to have
most of the students completing their picture. They are given a
printed handout with detailed written instructions that they can use
as a reference to create the picture without a demonstration. More
detailed instructions can be found at:
www.knorth.info
Standards addressed:
Applying Math Principles
To Create Graphics
addresses various State Standards including algebraic thinking, problem solving, and symbolic reasoning;
using concrete models to solve equations and using symbols to record
the actions; representation of data; variables; the relationship
between algebra and geometry; geometric thinking; and the use of
computers with graphing capabilities to solve problems and analyze
relationships.
Materials used:
A computer with Internet connection (to download free software
from
http://pltscheme.org/software/drscheme/)
and graph paper is required.
The
students:
Any student population in grades seven through twelve can use this software. G/Tlevel students
can advance to the variable graphics by looking at sample code,
whereas the lowerlevel student can be taken through the steps by
observation and copying the teacher steps. It helps to have computer
literacy skills, but some students can learn how to type and use a
computer by doing an activity, such as programming, on it.
Overall value:
The design elements in programming are applicable to all
curriculum areas. Programming is applied algebra at its best, and it
helps to improve critical thinking skills, as students move from the
concrete to the abstract. Students learn to follow rules, pay
attention to details, and analyze data. Programming graphics is fun
and creative. It requires thinking and teaching differently and
exercises the brain. It is a unique technology tool, different from
the Office applications, and "different" motivates interest.
And, of utmost importance in algebra, it teaches functions and
patterns.
Programming
is used in all careers, from musicians who program synthesizers, to
all who design Web pages. It is also used in application
software. In fact, a Westside High School student who is a selftaught
programmer in many computer languages, won a computer application
contest based on his programming skills; he had never programmed an
Excel spreadsheet prior to this. How can students find out if they
like programming if they are never exposed to computer science?
Programming Graphics is just a start into the world of computer
science.
Tips:
Give students the freedom and time to explore let them
"become" the teachers. Handson demonstrations help;
following written instructions is much harder. Teachers can be walked
through this graphic lesson in one hour and everyone can be a
successful programmer.
Those
interested in learning more advanced programming to teach computer
science can attend a free TeachScheme! workshop (http://teachscheme.org/).
Give it a try, you just might find how easy and fun programming can be
with a little planning and a design recipe.

About the teacher:
Karen North is a computer science teacher and technology trainer
from
Westside High School in Houston ISD. She has served as president of
the Texas Computer Education Association Computer Science SIG and has
made presentations at math and technology conferences. She has also has
worked with the Texas Education Agency in developing the computer
science Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills and with the State
Board of Educator Certification.
Email:
knorth@cs.rice.edu
Subject
Areas:
Math
Art
Technology
Grade
Levels:
712
