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Dynamic Haptic Geometry in Elementary and Undergraduate Classrooms

Project Information

National Science Foundation Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering Program
2009 – 2013
Award: REC-0835395

Project Team

Principal Investigators
Stephen Hegedus, UMass Dartmouth
Nicholas Jackiw, KCP Technologies (Co-PI)

Beste Gúçler, UMass Dartmouth
Ryan Robidoux, UMass Dartmouth

Jon Brooks, KCP Technologies
Ian Rosenfield, KCP Technologies
James Burke, UMass Dartmouth


Building on prior work, we plan to develop a rich technological environment that combines the dynamic geometry environment of Geometer’s Sketchpad® with haptic technology, particularly force feedback devices. We plan to create a series of geometric activities specifically focused on 2D figures and shapes as well as some simple 3D surfaces and solids, to enable users of various ages to explore the properties of these objects with various senses.

The project combines these technology goals with learning goals that aim to provide better access to a wider variety of students (including underrepresented groups) in science, engineering and mathematics. We will conduct a series of informal after-school experiments at the Kaput Center for Research and Innovation in STEM Education, and then some formal classroom interventions with primary school students in various schools. We will also explore extensions of these activities in some engineering and mathematics undergraduate classrooms at the University of Massachusetts. We will document, using data collected from the technological environment and other instruments, how students discover properties of mathematical objects within this new environment and develop formal argumentation, how this varies across age group, and how it can be integrated into formal classroom settings. The data will also be used to refine the design of the system over 3 years.

We aim to discover what impact fusing a second modal input of feel to sight affords in terms of engaging students of a variety of ages into exploring geometric concepts, and observe what kinds of mathematical activity can be designed that are significantly different to those using traditional forms of instruction. We will evaluate the practicality and educational benefits from integrating such technology.

We integrate and build upon over 15+ years of research and development of the SimCalc Projects at the Kaput Center and the Geometer’s Sketchpad® software, particularly Sketchpad’s huge impact and adoption by classrooms across the world.

Intellectual MeritThe program of research aims to advance knowledge across learning and computer science communities in trans-disciplinary ways and understand more about the design principles necessary to create more accessible multi-modal technological environments. We aim to create novel learning opportunities for a wide variety of students across K-16 educational contexts to understand deep conceptual mathematical ideas. The project is integrative, builds on, and enhances, existing partnerships

Broader ImpactThe project aims to allow accessible educational avenues for a wide range of students to explore mathematical concepts in advanced learning environments that exploits the latest in hardware and graphical engines. We will work with with underrepresented groups from the University’s START program-an access program established for students with disadvantaged backgrouds in mathematics-as well as schools with varying achievement levels that presently use Geometer’s Sketchpad® in the nation. The Kaput Center will also assess the affordances and constraints for wider adoption.

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