21 August 2019

Geometry in the past and present, by Miha Srebrnjak

Approaching the start of the new school year, I decided to write today about a school theme - geometry.

We are already learning about geometry in elementary school. This is an extremely broad concept because geometry comprises a considerable proportion of different areas. However, in this article, I will focus on geometric functions. Yes, I will talk about the coordinate system. Many people do not enjoy this topic, which at the end is also visible in the school grades. 

This field of mathematics is especially difficult for blind students. There are quite some parts in this topic which are not taught to blind students at all. For those who have a well-developed orientation, however, the material may be slightly adjusted.

Blind students can use a special foil for drawing. With a pencil, we draw lines (abscissa and ordinate), which can be later touched and felt as the pencil leaves a physical trace on the foil. Similarly to this, dots are made to feel the points on the coordinate system.

In this way, a blind person can fully sense the coordinate system and get an idea of ​​what it looks like. To calculate  the coordinates, blind students use a computer (excel) or a special calculator with sound feedback. The drawn lines cannot be deleted, so we need a new foil with a coordinate system for each new exercise.

As for the physical part, there is no other way of perceiving this subject. However, there is a digital solution, called Feelif Geometric Functions application.

Feelif Geometric Functions application allows us to feel the coordinate system on the smart tablet using the tactile grid. The tactile grid consists of dots that correspond to the intervals of the drawn coordinates. When pressing your finger on a specific dot, the application will tell you the exact value of x and the value of y. Listening carefully to the sound feedback we learn about the location of the abscissa, the ordinate and the point 0 (intersection), in this we can feel the whole function. The application has several chapters. In the first chapter, for example, some typical functions can be felt. The second chapter allows you to enter any function through a very simple scientific calculator. The third chapter allows us to test our knowledge and insert the points of the function ourselves and even draw the function. In doing so, the app helps us with sound feedback. A teacher can open the "analyze data" tab and also check the process of the blind students calculation and drawing.

It can be seen in what order did the student enter the points and draw functions since the process is been animated. This way, the teacher or parent can see exactly where the child is having problems and help him or her to understand the exercise.

I can certainly say that Feelif Geometric Functions application will allow blind and visually impaired students in the future to fully handle this topic in school and obtain a good grade. If you are a parent, I recommend to test the application yourself before teaching and explaining the geometric functions to your child. Very precise instructions are available with the application so you can rest assured, you will master it. Of course, it is good to know the topic at least approximately.