Micky Bullock is our youngest GeoGebra Ambassador. He tweets a lot about GeoGebra and uploads great materials to his GeoGebraTube account.
Who are you, what are you doing?
Micky Bullock. I teach mathematics at Forest School, an independent secondary school in London. I teach children from the age of 12 all the way up to the age of 18 including A-Level Further Mathematics.
My blog is called The Secret Garden of Maths (www.mickybullock.com). I use it to showcase GeoGebra apps and share solutions to interesting problems. Do take a look!
I’m interested in how I can use computers to enhance the experience of learning mathematics in school. I frequently employ GeoGebra in the classroom and try to teach the students how to use it. I write GeoGebra apps in my spare time for whatever mathematical need takes my fancy. I’ve created apps about probability, projectiles, differential equations, binomial theorem and expansions, just to name a few, and I’ve recently finished the Easy Mortgage Calculator. I always aim to make the apps as ergonomic, aesthetically pleasing and accessible as possible. I also try to make them unbreakable, for example ensuring you can’t lose points off the side of the screen or combine parameters in a way that makes the equations break down when they shouldn’t. My main aim, though, is to allow the user, whoever they are, to learn a mathematical concept simply by playing with the app. It’s fun, but my perfectionism sometimes keeps me up all night!
When did you first try GeoGebra?
I remember seeing a link to GeoGebra on the desktops in my first placement school when I did my teacher training at the University of Leeds in 2009. My first glimpse of its potential was in January 2010 during a university workshop on maths software. The member of staff drew a triangle, constructed that triangle’s circumcircle and inscribed circle, then started dragging the vertices of the triangle around. I watched as the circles moved smoothly and resized continuously. It was beautiful to watch and it seemed to open up a floodgate of creativity in my mind. My love of GeoGebra had begun. Since then I’ve been tinkering with it almost daily.
What do you hate in GeoGebra?
- There’s a huge difference between small and medium font size. Also the text isn’t intelligent, for example if you set it up to show y=mx+c, with m and c numerical parameters, when c is negative it will say, for example, y=3x+-2. Or if m is zero it will say y=0x+-2. We wouldn’t normally write this. There are workarounds but they are fiddly.
- The spreadsheet can be slow and cumbersome when there is a lot of data.
- I can’t get it to automatically write information to specific cells in the spreadsheet.
- When people share rubbish apps on GeoGebraTube.
What do you love in GeoGebra?
- It’s open source.
- It’s free.
- It’s delightfully easy for students to use in a basic way
- You can create interconnections between all sorts of objects and you can attach variables to things like the view window and the RGB and opacity.
- Boolean algebra in the “Condition to show object” field
- GeoGebraTube for sharing apps
- I also love how fast it is being developed. GeoGebra is taking over the world!
What are the GeoGebra related activities you participate?
- In November 2012 I attended the Computer-Based Maths Education Summit at the Royal Institution in London.
- In October 2012 I gave the opening keynote address at the X Jornades D’Educació Matemàtica, a conference at the University of Alicante. The talk was entitled, “The Value of Dynamic Geometry in Modern Education and Problem Solving in GeoGebra”
- I’ve given talks at the MEI (Mathematics in Education and Industry) conferences in 2011 and 2012 on use of GeoGebra in education.
- I’ve given talks at the MathsJam conference in 2010, 2011 and 2012. In 2010 my talk was entitled, “Playing Lemmings with Discontinuous Functions” and in 2012 I generated a profane graph that swears at the viewer.
- I attended ICME-12 (The 12th International Congress on Mathematical Education) in Seoul, Korea in July 2012. Here I met Balazs Koren and Zsolt Lavicza. I was surprised and excited to see one of my own apps used in a demonstration of GeoGebra such a long way from home.