Article by: Kyle Kim
All illustrations were made by IB HL1 Math students on Desmos.
Desmos is a free online graphical calculator that enables students and people from all around the world to access a powerful educational tool. Not only can users display graphs of any function, but also save and compile these graphs separately to ensure that they can be accessed at a later time. Desmos is unique in that it has several features that make it a convenient tool in helping students create graphs. Desmos both shows the important features of the function, such as the slope and the x-intercept, and displays the change a number has on a function. This makes it easy to simultaneously edit the functions while viewing the results.
International School Manila has been successfully implementing the Desmos graphic calculator as one of the more important educational tools in the Mathematics Department. This semester, the IB Mathematics HL department used Desmos to broaden the graphical perception of students. Students were asked to use different functions in Desmos to create images that reflected how they saw themselves. By creating visual graphs ranging from simple burgers to complicated pianos, students were able to bring their mathematical abilities to the next level.
According to a variety of IB Math HL1 students, the graphs were not that simple to create. In fact, in order to be successful in creating such intricate graphs, students had to have knowledge on the properties and features of various functions. IB Math HL1 student Jenny K. stated that this activity allowed her to “[learn] and become more aware on how certain functions work along with the graphical properties. Although it was a difficult task, it is safe to say I learned much more than I expected.” Fellow student Lisa Z. agreed that the graphing project was “so difficult as I had to make many curves to make my picture with the graphs.” As students were asked to create images based on how they perceived themselves, they were able to use these images as means of self-expression. Jenny K. graphed hamburgers and an empty box of fries to demonstrate how she was always a “hungry” person with a large appetite. Others like Lisa Z. were more straightforward and graphed a piano, as she defined herself as a pianist. These graphs were later posted on the ISM twitter account and were so exemplary that Desmos tweeted them back, acknowledging the skills and creative minds of ISM students.
Despite all the benefits of the Desmos graphing calculator and the impact it had on the students of ISM, one may ask, so what? With such accessibility around the world and easy usage, Desmos can be used even further to help students who cannot afford expensive technology of graphing calculators. Given that the IB Math HL1 students’ experiences were valuable, our school should continue to use Desmos as an important tool in enriching the learning experience in educational settings. With that said, students should continue to appreciate Desmos and use it as a powerful learning tool to enhance their learning experience.