With the rise of the online text, e-readers and tablets, there has been a revolution in how people consume written information. The way most people write math, however, hasn't changed in centuries.
It was this realization that inspired Indiana University's David Landy to create Graspable Math -- software that allows users to "touch" and manipulate numbers on a screen. The result is a system that lets students learn mathematical concepts by "playing" with numbers -- opening the door to grasping concepts before mastering rules of notation.
"Graspable Math is a way to let algebra respond to us," said Landy, co-founder of Graspable Math and an assistant professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. "For the student and the teacher, [it's] a way to 'pick up' the numbers and move fluidly."
Originally created as a research tool to advance research on math learning under a grant from the Department of Education, Graspable Math has expanded through support from the IU Office of the Vice Provost for Research and the Johnson Center for Innovation and Translational Research at IU Bloomington. The IU Research and Technology Corp. has also offered the researchers a software license agreement to help commercialize the technology.
The software is already being used by educators across the country, including groups in Massachusetts, Virginia and the IUPUI Math Assistance Center . Others have found the software online, including over 20,000 people who have downloaded the software as a Chrome web browser plug-in that lets users manipulate equations from the web.
Others will soon learn more about Graspable Math when IU's video on the project is featured on the National Science Foundation's "STEM for All" video showcase. The NSF project, which launches May 15, highlights federally funded research that increases access to science, technology, engineering and math. Members of the public will be invited to vote for their favorite videos through May 22.
Other co-founders of Graspable Math are Erik Weitnauer, a postdoctoral researcher at IU, and Erin Ottmar, assistant professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
By Kevin Fryling and Aaron Shafer
The article was originally published on the Indiana University Bloomington website.