Transforming Geometry with Programmable Rovers

The Accelerated Math students in eighth grade were programming their TI-Innovator Rovers again, this time to construct geometric transformations. Their rover lab was the Black and White Hall in Danforth, an open, airy space that contrasts part of the history of MICDS with a high-tech math project.

Students used the programming language Python on their TI-Nspire handheld graphing calculators to instruct their rovers to draw shapes on whiteboards.

“The students have been developing algebraic rules for geometric transformations (rotations, reflections, and translations),” explained Dr. Jody Marberry, Middle School Math Teacher. “The activity asked students first to apply what they had learned to construct a geometric figure (like a triangle) using coordinates by programming the rover to ‘drive’ to the points.” Driving the rover required basic Python programming on their Ti-Nspire handhelds. Each rover held a dry erase marker on the front, which allowed the rovers to then draw figures on whiteboards.

“Students then had to adjust the code to have the rover transform the figures,” she said. For example, some students reflected their triangle over the x-axis, while others programmed their rover to rotate the figure 90 degrees clockwise. Still other teams had the figure “slide” across the board through a translation. Marberry said the activity provided students with hands-on, real-time feedback on their ability to perform the transformations and allowed them to explore various strategies for programming the rover to move based on specific requirements.

Luke Peritore ’27 enjoyed the project that took learning out of the classroom and into his hands. He said, “I learned a lot from the rover project. I learned how shapes can reflect across an axis. I learned more than a normal class because it was hands-on and interactive as well.”

Reina Banerjee ’27 agreed. “I thought the rovers were really fun to code and I learned how to transform triangles using python code!” she said.