Monday, December 21, 2020

Coding Math Concepts as Tests of Student Comprehension

    In Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, a test of a learner's 'comprehension' of a concept is the ability of the learner to 'rephrase’ or ‘restate' the concept in as many different ways as possible. For several years I have been interested in using standard mathematics curriculum as a source of computer coding exercises in which students ‘rephrase’ math concepts. Geometry is an especially rich source for computer coding projects. In this post we use computer code to explore the scalene triangle concept.

Where to begin?

Scalene triangle: A triangle with three unequal side lengths and three unequal angle measures

The definition tells us how to recognize a scalene triangle if we know the lengths of the three sides.  But the definition is static, not dynamic. Typing the definition into computer code will code the individual letters (ASCI II) but the code simply displays the definition as text, not as a figure of a scalene triangle.

This is often a point of frustration with beginning programmers as they may know a ‘concept’ as a set of words or symbols but become frustrated when trying to code the concept.

To code a scalene triangle in Scratch is not a trivial exercise.

To begin, I’ve created a starter project that has a mouse as sprite 1. You can click on this link to download the project or create your own starter.

                                    Scalene Triangle Mouse Starter

   The completed project can be downloaded by clicking on the following link.

Scalene Triangle Mouse I

   I am in the process of writing a detailed tutorial describing the coding of the Scalene Triangle Mouse I project. A free PDF file of this document that might be useful to both teachers and students can be obtained by emailing me at

   The following projects are in the same spirit as each project codes a math concept.

Radian Mouse

Perpendicular Mouse

Parallel Mouse

Angle Mouse

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