Math problems? Your mobile phone can help

Here’s a confession; despite my geeky-ness and the nature of this blog, I suck at math. Yup, ever since I started schooling, mathematics has always been the Achilles’ heel of my supposedly-stellar academic achievements.

There must be something wrong with me but I hate it whenever I solve long mathematical problems like those linear and quadratic equations looking for the values of X, Y or Z. After spending hours and consuming pages of yellow-ruled paper I did get the answer right but what the heck?! X is equal to 0?! I mean, darn, all of that for nothing?!

Okay, pardon my materialist way of thinking (blame Hegel and Marx for this) but my teachers have always told me that I have a potential for excelling at Math. They say so because I have this exceptional knack for understanding and analyzing problems both numerical and word problems, on top of that, I could always offer a solution almost faster than anyone else. Thank you for all the flattery and complements and I do agree with them, that’s why I’ve come to the conclusion that all this grudge against Math is an attitude problem. I also know that I’m not the only one faced with this dilemma. There are lots of others like me and some are even facing bigger problems rooted in this personal disdain for math.

What could we do? Is there hope? Are we doomed to spend the rest of our student life antagonizing math subjects? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Well, maybe this cool new set of mobile apps could help us get that miracle of overcoming our hatred of math and actually, enjoy the darned subject.

Math4Mobile

Found this in my Google Reader and so big props to ScienceDaily to which I will blatantly steal content from them:

The latest development of Prof. Michal Yerushalmy, of the Institute for Alternatives in Education of the Faculty of Education at the University of Haifa, may indeed have the answer to this question, through a medium that today’s youth understand very well –their cellular telephones.

Researchers have developed an educational, mobile math lab application for cell phones, providing students with experiential, interactive ways to learn math. Problems, graphs and functions can be sent to others via text messaging.

The applications that Prof. Yerushalmy developed, in cooperation with Arik Weizman and Zohar Shavit of the University of Haifa Computer Science Department with support from Eurocom Israel, can be installed on most cellular phones on the market today.

When installed, they enable cellular phones to function like computers which, among other things, are able to perform mathematical functions at different levels — from elementary school geometry to high school level calculus. The applications were developed specifically for the educational system, and they can be used like any application installed on a cell phone. The availability of the medium means that students are no longer reliant on computer classrooms in the school and that educational opportunities are as mobile as students are.

He’s a genius really. What better way to get students and young kids hooked to math than through one of the most loved devices of our generation; our mobile phones.

I visited their site (Math4Mobile) and it’s quite easy to get acquainted with these ground-breaking mobile apps. They offer five mobile apps that offer various solutions to overcoming and mastering mathematics.

math4mobileGraph2Go

Basic features of Graph2Go:

  • Graphs of single variable function expressions.
  • Dynamic graphing of transformed expressions.
  • Points of interest (maximum, minimum, inflection_ are marked and their numerical values are presented.
  • Graph and expression of the derivative function.
  • Graph, expression of the integral function’s family.
  • Area expressed by the integral of a given function.
  • Zooming and rescaling options.

Graph2Go is a special purpose graphing calculator that operates for given sets of function expressions. Additional sets will become available for downloading from this site. The given families of function expressions and the tools that support easy changes of any given example have been designed for fast and easy use with the small keyboard.

Solve2Go

Solve2Go supports solving equations and inequalities by means of conjectures based on visual thinking. Conjectures can be refuted or supported by examples provided by the tool, and should be proved using symbolic manipulations on paper.

Sketch2Go

Sketch2Go encourages visual exploration of phenomena by providing qualitative indication of the ways in which the sketch drawn by the user changes. The sketch is a diagrammatic representation that attempts to help the viewer focus on the principles rather than on tedious details of the represented phenomenon. Phenomenon can refer to processes outside of mathematics (e.g., physical temporal phenomena) or to mathematical phenomena (e.g., a function with three extrema). Moving students beyond plotting and reading points to interpreting the global meaning of graphs and the functional relationships that they describe has been identified as a major goal of mathematics education.

Fit2Go

Fit2Go supports exploration and modeling activities. It supports data collection by proposing a model that can appropriately describe the user’s data. The tool highlights the numeric aspects of a phenomenon. Together, Sketch2Go and Fit2Go provide a comprehensive view of models and modeling.

Quad2Go

Quad2Go is a handy tool for learning about quadrilaterals by generating examples, observing, and experimenting with examples with a view toward forming generalized conjectures. Similarly to frequently used Dynamic Geometry Environments (DGE) such as the Geometric Supposer, Cabri Geometry, and the Geometer Sketchpad, Quad2Go offers geometric objects, tools to manipulate them, and measurement tools. It is limited to quadrilaterals and the construction of diagonals. Quad2Go allows users to construct, view, and transform quadrilaterals compatible with the ones constructed with straight edge and compass, to measure lengths, angles, and areas, and to manipulate the construction by dragging and transforming its shape.

5 Mobile apps that will turn our mobile phones into mobile math labs. Oozing with geekyness I know but hey, if it will help us Math-haters to enjoy and master mathematics then why not give these apps a try. You could do so in the safety of your web browser thanks to mobile phone simulator offered in their website.

If you do decide to give them an actual run, you download them to your PC or via your web browser. The apps will install themselves automatically or depending on your mobile phone settings. Oh and yes, these mobile apps, or “midlets” are for free.

The other cool feature of the midlets is that you can send the results of your calculations via SMS to your fellow students. Just don’t do this while taking exams or you’ll be in a world of trouble.

The phone requirements are quite basic of any current mid-level phone:

  • Java Enabled (J2ME) Phone – Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1
  • Screen Resolution:

Minimum: 128 x 96
Recommended: around 176 x 208

I’ve just downloaded the apps and would blog more about it once I get it installed and working on my Sony-Ericsson K800i. It feel likes attending those Colleg Algebra classes all over again.

2 Comments

  1. Like you, Math was one of my weakness in school. Not that I was stupid but because of my attitude towards it. I think a part of it was because I had a math teacher who wasn't fit to teach the subject. Hehe The only math subject I liked was Physics. 🙂

    Btw, those are cool apps. I wish they developed that earlier when I was still in highschool or college. Hehe

    Reply

  2. @ Jaypee: Ah yes, Physics. I like more than Chemistry. Especially the laws of motion and trajectories of projectiles. 👿

    That's why during the rare times I play basketball, I always take the position of shooting guard. Just pass me the ball, and we'll let gravity plus my knowledge of physics do the rest. 😉

    Reply

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