This activity was devised as part of the Researchers in Residence regional project in the South West. You can also read about this activity on the Researchers in Residence microsite.
The resource consists of
Quite often students find it difficult to visualise 3D coordinates. A topic which appears on higher and foundation papers at GCSE, this activity aims to give students the opportunity to engage with the topic by making links to how 3D coordinates are used in real life.
What I did
I began by showing the students the advertisement from Sony 3D TV. They were really hooked in by it and we had some nice discussion around dimensions and how we represent the world in 2D even though it is in 3D. We talked about how gaming consoles now work in 3D and how an understanding of 3D coordinates might help them to appreciate some of the more complicated maths involved in designing games.
We then looked at how to use Autograph – students had a laptop in pairs. They had used Autograph before so they were familiar with the basics, all I had to do was demonstrate how to use the 3D graphing tools. The students were very enthusiastic about trying out the 3D graphing plotter, I gave them some time to ‘play’ with the programme before I introduced the task.
When I showed them the 3D model that they would be making they were very excited about doing it themselves. We had a nice discussion about the head – I challenged them to see if they could create a circle by trial and error – one pair managed it! We then discussed how this would change if we wanted a sphere in 3D.
By the end of the lesson all pairs had designed their own 3D figure and had started to record the coordinates of the joints.
This activity provided students with a good opportunity to use ICT to help them understand the concept of plotting points in space. In the second lesson when they made their models, this was reinforced when they were faced with the problem of ‘suspending’ a point in space. Using the Researchers in Residence clip on laser research was an interesting close to the activity and students asked lots of questions about the work they had done. I feel that after the activity many of the students who find shape and space work more challenging in terms of visualisation were able to give 3D coordinates of points plotted as a 2D representation. I think that it was a worthwhile activity in the sense that the students were really interested in the topic and it helped them to build a deeper understanding of why we bother learning 3D coordinates at all!
* This file has been made using Geogebra software, one of a number of interactive geometry software packages available, which can be downloaded free from the Geogebra website.