Saturday, December 23, 2017

Three Apps That Solve Math Problems Through a Picture

A few years ago when Photomath hit the App store there was all manner of debate about whether or not it was a good app for students. I fall into the side that argues that students are going to find apps like Photomath whether we tell them about it or not. Therefore, we need to think about the kind of math problems that are given as homework assignments. That is much like those of us in history classes who need to think about the kind of research assignments we give to students in the "Age of Google." David Wees and Scott McLeod had some good commentary on this back in 2014.

Here are three apps that your students might have installed on their phones to help them solve math problems given to them for homework.

Photomath was the first app that I remember having the capability to let students snap a picture to get the answer to a math problem. It will not only show students the answer it also shows the the steps required to solve a math problem. When I recently tested the app against the other two in this list, it was the most responsive of the three. It also felt the most intuitive of the three. Photomath is available for Android and iOS.


Mathpix offers similar functionality to Photomath. Mathpix claims to be the first app to support handwriting recognition (although the other apps in this list do the same). It did a fine job recognizing my handwritten examples. The problem I had was that it defaulted to trying to graph every problem that I scanned even though the problem didn't call for a graph. A quick tap of the "solver" tab in the app showed the correct answer. Mathpix is available for Android and iPhone.

Cymath is another free app that also lets students scan typed or handwritten math problems to see solutions and steps. Of the three apps on this list, this one had the largest field of view for the camera. It also has the cleanest user interface except for a banner ad that appears in the free version. Cymath is available for Android and iPhone.

Updated List of Chromebooks That Support Android Apps

Thursday's post about the Google Science Journal app prompted a lot of people to ask me, in email and on Facebook, if the app would work on Chromebooks. The answer is that it will work on some Chromebooks. To run the Google Science Journal app on a Chromebook you have to have a Chromebook that supports the use of Android apps.

Android Central maintains a list of the Chromebooks that currently support the installation of Android apps. The most recent update to that list was on December 15th. The list is divided into Chromebooks that support Android apps in the "stable" channel (the most recent version of Chrome OS) and the Chromebooks that support Android apps in the beta channel.

It is important to note that just because your Chromebook is listed as being capable of running Android apps, that doesn't mean that you'll necessarily be able to install them on a school-issued Chromebook. Your IT administrator may have placed additional restrictions on your device to prevent you from installing Android apps. I know this because I recently worked with a school that had done just that.

Classmint - Online Flashcards With Annotated Images

Classmint is an online flashcard service. Like other services similar to it, Classmint can be used to create and share sets of flashcards. A couple of aspects of Classmint make it different from some other flashcard services. First, Classmint will read your flashcards to you. Second, in addition to supporting the use of images in your flashcard, Classmint allows you to annotate those images on your flashcards. Learn more about Classmint in the video below.


Applications for Education
As I've said for years, I never assigned the task of creating flashcards to high school students, yet they just seemed to show up with them. Services like Classmint could be useful to students who like to use flashcards as a method of reviewing before a test. The option for including annotated images will be helpful to students studying for exams courses like anatomy and physiology.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Programming With Santa

If you're looking for an educational and Christmas-themed activity to do with your kids this weekend, take a look at Google's Santa Tracker Code Lab. I learned about this neat resource this morning from Brian Aspinall and I spent a bit of time playing with it this afternoon. 

Santa Tracker Code Lab has fourteen levels that kids can work through as they apply some basic programming concepts. The Santa Tracker Code Lab starts with simple skills like matching pieces to an outline before moving into programming a full animation with logic blocks similar to those that you might find in Scratch.

Ancient Egypt 101 - A Six Minute Primer

Ancient Egypt 101 is a new video produced by National Geographic. The video doesn't reveal any new information or go into any great detail. What it does provide is a concise overview of the history of ancient Egypt and how some aspects of ancient Egyptian culture are still present today.


Applications for Education
One of the nice things about using videos like this in your classroom or sharing it for students to watch on their own, is that it can give them a slightly different presentation of material that you may have already covered in a lesson. Sometimes just seeing the information presented in a different manner can make the difference that makes it all "click" for a student.

An activity that you can do after students watch the video is to have them "fill in the gaps" by creating a detailed, multimedia timeline of Ancient Egypt. Timeline JS is a good tool for doing that. It is one of the tools featured in my self-paced course, Teaching History With Technology.