14th July 2000 at 01:00
DYNAMIC GEOMETRY WITH SKETCHPAD. By the Brine Leas Mathematics Department and Ruth Eagle. Keele Mathematical Education Publications (KMEP) pound;9.95

Geometry is back in the mathematics national curriculum - long live Euclid! But wasn't Euclid terribly boring and static? Isn't that why we got rid of it? Perhaps yes, perhaps no, but geometry is making a comeback at a time when computer packages are available that can really make the subject come alive.

Sketchpad is just one dynamic geometry package among many. But like all such packages, it can do so much and appears to take so long to learn that many teachers will perhaps be wary of getting involved.

What most teachers want is something pre-digested that they can experiment with and feel that they and their pupils will benefit from it. Then, if they are successful, the teachers can develop their own and their pupils' skills.

Dynamic Geometry with Sketchpad offers exacly this. It consists of a disk with 29 Sketchpad files and a book of activities. The first section of the book contains activities based on the disk files. These are loaded into an existing copy of Sketchpad and can be launched with ease. The book's second section introduces more activities, each one of which is based on a small selection of Sketchpad skills, thus providing the motivation to develop skills but with purpose and without getting out of one's depth.

The third section of the book launches the teacher into the full-blown program proper. All the activities are closely related to the mathematics national curriculum.

As the book makes clear, it is up to the teacher to provide the mathematics, which is as it should be. But KMEP and Sketchpad have provided a developmental and truly dynamic basis by which pupils, and teachers, can explore that most wondrous of branch of mathematics, geometry.

Tom Roper

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