This
program is pretty easy to use. As you can see from the panel below, the colored
shapes on the left, are the pattern blocks or manipulatives which can be clicked
on to *magically* make new shapes. This shapes can then be dragged into the
working area. There is no limit as to how many shapes you can make and drag out. You can then select any of the shapes in the working area
by clicking on them with the cursor. Once selected, you can move them to a new
location. You will notice that the shapes can only be placed on a particular grid
location (i.e they snap into the grid). This is made to facilitate their arrangement
and relative placement. | | To
get rid of any the shapes, once selected, you can drag them right into the recycling
bin on the lower left corner. The shapes selected
for this version of the program are the standard sizes and types used commonly
as pattern blocks. A short description follows: | This is the **triangle** and it is the smallest
of all the shapes. | | This
is a **square** and it is a bit more than twice the size of the triangle --
about 2.3 times. This and the tan parallelogram are the only shapes with a size
that is not a even multiple of the triangle! | | This
is the **rhombus **or** parallelogram**. Its size or area is exactly twice
that of the triangle. I.e. you can fit two triangles inside of it. | | This
is another **rhombus** or** parallelogram** with sharper angles and with an area that is half that of the square at about
1.15 times the triangle. | | This
is the **trapezoid**. Its size or area is exactly three times that of the triangle.
That means that you can fit three triangles inside of a trapezoid or one blue
rhombus and one triangle. | | This
is the **hexagon** and it is the largest of all the shapes. Its size or area
is exactly six times that of the triangle. You can fit six triangles or three
blue rhombus or two trapezoids inside of it. | Let's
now describe the tools or icons at the top of the panel. These are used to change
the action that you get from clicking at the mouse. Another way to describe this
is to say that you change the mode of the program. The following table describes
the three modes available: Icon
Symbol | Description | | Clicking
on this straight arrow, which looks like a normal cursor, puts the program in
normal mode. This is the mode where you can make, select, and drag shapes. | | Clicking
on this icon changes the mode to rotate mode. In this mode, clicking on any of
the shapes within the working area, will rotate them by 60 degrees counter clock
side (just as the arrow shows). After the shape rotates, is will be moved to snap
into a new grid location depending on the actual angle. See below for a few more
comments on rotation. You need to click on the straight arrow () to go back to normal
mode. | | If
you want to find out a few details on the different shapes, you click on this
icon and then on the shape (or icon) that you are interested in. Again, click
on the straight arrow () to go back to normal
mode. | The last
thing that needs description is the broom . You click on the
broom to clear at once all the shapes from the working area. Rest assured that
they also get recycled, just like that individual ones that you can recycle yourself. **A
Few More Comments on Rotation:** All rotations are in 60 degrees increments. A full rotation
or a complete circle has 360 degrees or 6 times 60 degrees. That is why each shape
can rotate up to six times before it will go back to its original orientation.
Can you guess why all the shapes rotate by
60 degrees? Why not 30 or 90? The whole idea is to rotate them such that they
fit nicely into the other shapes when you overlay them. Both 30 and 90 would leave
the shapes in an orientation that couldn't be arranged nicely. 60 Degrees happens
to be the *magic number*.
And the final
question, why is it that the triangle seems to only rotate into two orientations
rather than the six that it is supposed to be? And what about the hexagon? It
doesn't seem to rotate at all? Can you think why? This has to do with what is
called properties, and it is based on the precise location where their vertices
are located and how symmetrical the shapes (or the location of the vertices) are.
You could say that that is the way the shapes work when rotated 60 degrees. It
is an intrinsic property of the shapes.
Back to SAMPLE Play Applet |