One of our brainstorming ideas for helping students understand equations was to visualize how changes in the relative magnitude of some terms cause changes in others. We wanted to test out how this would function as an interactive system and see if students engaged with the method of interaction.
Some insights from this prototype:
- There’s not one “intuitive” way that the other, unfixed variables should react to the user changing one. What’s best might depend on the specific problem being used.
- There are many subtleties of the physical interaction that need to be sorted out. The user expects the equation to stay approximately centered while it’s being manipulated.
- There needs to be a visual indicator of constants that shows that they can’t be varied, since that’s not evident from the variable letters and is confusing, since they don’t work like the other variables.
- There will be some difficulty in implementing an arbitrary equation solver if we want to allow the manipulation of the equation in an interactive environment.