Young children investigating advanced mathematical concepts with haptic technologies: future design perspectives. (English)

Math. Enthus. 10, No. 1-2, 87-108 (2013).

From the introduction: In this chapter, we focus on how new technologies can be used with young children to investigate mathematical ideas and concepts that would normally be introduced at a later age. In particular, we focus on haptic technologies that allow learners to touch and feel objects through force feedback in addition to visual images on a screen. The main purpose of this paper is to describe how these technologies can be used to enable young learners to construct meaning about geometric shapes and surfaces as well as attributes of particular mathematical constructions in multiple dimensions (particularly 2D and 3D for purposes of this chapter). Such learning environments enable various forms of mediation both through the devices and software used as well as socially, as students work together to develop meaning and create models of complex ideas. We begin by describing how and why young learners in particular should be working in such learning environments in order to provide a rationale for our work. In Section 2, we provide some background on how these technologies have evolved and their use in other disciplines and how we have built on prior research in the use of dynamic geometry in mathematics education. Section 3 presents how relevant these new learning environments can be with some specific examples from preliminary work at the Kaput Center. The section also contains some theoretical reflections on how we can begin to analyze and understand how students work and construct meaning in such environments. Section 4 then concludes by offering some design principles for future research and development.