Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Inserting Images on the TI-Nspire

Abstract (That means summary, 'cliffnotes' version for those who are don't like to read the interesting details.): How do you insert an image onto your TI-Nspire handheld? 1st, you need to install your software that comes with the purchase of TI-Nspire. No software? You can get the 30-day trial from TI's website. 2nd, open a document and choose an application like Notes, Graphs, Geometry, or Data & Statistics as shown in the image below. 3rd, click Insert, Image. Pick an image. With your TI-Nspire handheld attached to your computer, you can save the document to your handheld.

[Update: Videos about images on the handheld and what can be done with the TI-Nspire Navigator are now available on youtube. To transfer a file that you inserted an image on from the computer to your handheld, try this video tutorial. The basic insert image tutorial is here.]

Diagrams and
pictures can help student engagement and exploration. The TI-Nspire Navigator 3.0 makes it easy to evaluate students in engaging ways. It encourages a new means for students to communicate their explanation of the relationship between their mathematical model and an image. This extends their learning beyond the normal rote problem set into an interactive investigation. Today in class I used the last image in this blog entry, the NASA Space Shuttle launch, to see how well students could write an equation of a line. They said they wish their previous math teacher could have used this. It would have helped them learn and understand slope and y-intercept so much better.

Images appear crisp and bright in vivid colors on the TI-Nspire CX. It comes with some images already loaded in the TI-Nspire, Images folder. But it is easy to import more jpeg, bmp, png, or clipboard (YES, copy/paste works) images. Any of these work just as well as the other from my experience. For more info about the file types you can read a recent google group conversation. I really enjoy copy/paste. It has been recommended to not use a several megabyte picture, but to keep the file size small. I've used images on a QuickPolls with the Navigator and it took it a second or two for the students to get the question to pop up on their screen rather than the normal nearly instantaneous delivery. But it was worth it.

So how do you insert a picture or image into a TI-Nspire document? It is essentially and easy and clicking 'Insert.'
From the software, images can be put into Questions, Notes, Graphs, Geometry, and Data & Statistics applications by clicking the 'Insert' button and choose 'Image...'.

Images convert from color into grayscale well on the Touchpad or Clickpad handheld devices.

The screen shots you see can be found in the 3.0 OS TI-Nspire document here.

All text and lines are mapped to black.

Here is an example from Data & Statistics page. Images can be modified by moving them, change the size but keeping the aspect ratio, squish or stretch vertically or horizontally. Again, on a D&S page select the image by pressing menu, Action, Select Image.
So there is currently not a way to rotate an image or adjust the transparency. However, there is a way to make an image more transparent on a Graph and Geometry page with the following trick.
Note page 1.3 looks like the image is more transparent. Actually what happened is the image was inserted on a Geometry page, THEN the view (press menu>View) was changed to Graphing. This puts a somewhat translucent graph on top of the Geometry View. Similarly you could Show an Analytic Window on top of a Geometry page. This is what it looks like on a TI-Nspire Touchpad.For this OS we do have color, but we are limited to 9 vibrant choices.If you want to have images as part of a question, especially for doing Activity Center-like questions where equations are put on top of images, instead of doing a split screen, use the question type “Equation.” You can choose y= or f(x)= and change it later under ‘Response Type.’ Check the box for ‘Include a Graph Preview’ in order to make a question that will have some extra ease-of-use features. As the example below demonstrates, the student only needs to start typing in the equation and the graph appears and automatically updates. Again, this works when it is a Quick Poll or if it is part of a document.

Notice the ‘Data View’ options on the bottom right of the Quick Poll. If Graph is chosen, the image appears and students’ contributions are shown when they press enter.
Gray is the default color for students and green is the correct answer. Under the Review Toolbox is a wrench and hammer. By clicking this Tool and choosing Graph Tools, Individualize Student Responses can be activated.

Another tip in regards to colorful images: Sometimes changing the color of the axes and the line will be beneficial for the students to see their graph. Type something into the y= box and change the attributes and color.

I know the summer workshops will give more hands on experience with images and tips for the use of color. The Connecting Math & Science workshop in Indianapolis (among other places) will also share some updated colorful files to help encourage students toward STEM careers. They will also have colorful 3.0 Nspire files for some NASA activities.

Monday, April 4, 2011

TI-Nspire Lab Cradle: Part 2

Update: There is a Motion Lab/activity that can serve as a nice introduction to the CBR2 available at this link.
This is an exciting time. I would say that with the use of the TI-Nspire Lab Cradle the number of probes/sensors that can be used nearly doubles. According to a Vernier website the number of available sensors if you are using the Easy Link or Go Link are 50 and with the Lab Cradle it is 58. However, let's say you have some old sensors in the stock room that you thought you would never get to use again. With the right adapter, I have now tested an old accelerometer, pressure sensor, a microphone that was designed for the CBL, and just today I received the Motion Detector Cable MDC-BTD and got the original CBR to collect data as shown in the picture. (Thanks Grant, a top AP calc & physics student, for having your camera and taking the pic.) So the $145 TI-Nspire Lab Cradle can be a really good deal if you have some older equipment. Potentially hundreds of dollars of resources can now be used again and you won't need the approximately $60 Easy Link.

[Update: I've used the Easy Link with the older equipment with great success. Note that there are several data collection sensors like the microphone, photogates, and motion that will not work with the EasyLink's one 'BTA' port, but need the Lab Cradle's 'BTD' ports. The Lab Cradle also has 3 places to plug in 'BTA' plugs so you can, for example, measure temperature of 3 things at the same time like we've done with this evaporation lab.]

Now to the question about 'what data collection equipment should you get?'
If I was consulting your school and helping you develop a plan that fit your teachers, I would begin by asking several questions. But since we aren't having that dialogue, I'll give a general response.

If you don't have any sensors, and you have less than $150, the two data collection probes that all schools ought to have for science and mathematics would be the temperature probe and motion detector - Easy Temp and CBR2.
Neither of these require an additional interface. You can plug them directly into the mini USB on the top of the TI-Nspire. Similarly, if you have have a $5 mini to standard USB adapter, then you can plug a Easy Temp ($38) or CBR2 ($93) into your computer and the Nspire software will auto-detect and begin collecting data.

The gas pressure sensor is another one that (along with Easy Temp) is especially useful in bio, chem & physics.

I was recently asked what sensors I would recommend for an environmental class. Take a look at the recommended probes with the lab book "Investigating Environmental Science through Inquiry." Instruction are provided for pH, conductivity, soil moisture, O2, UV sensor (this appeals to many classes), light sensor (I bet you have that one from your CBL days), etc.
Most of these work with the Easy Link. But you cannot use the microphone with the Easy Link.

That is why I'm so excited about the Lab Cradle: multiple probes, extended battery life and help to power probes with the built in rechargeable battery, AND more sensors that I have been wanting to use.

I think math and physics teachers will be especially excited by the microphone. With a tuning fork you get real-world sinusoidal data that gives audible significance to the general equation y=A*sin(B*x)+C, where B=2pi*frequency or 2pi/T, the period. In mathematics they tend to call the coefficient in front of the x-variable B, but especially when dealing with rotational motion, like a Ferris wheel, I prefer to call it omega, the angular velocity. We used a 512 Hz tuning fork to get the data shown in the screen capture. The curve fit gave a value of 511.7 Hz. I love it!

[Update: Microphone lab with the TI-Nspire and many more are now available from Vernier.]

In addition to the microphone, with the Lab Cradle the 3-axis accelerometer, photogate, nuclear radiation monitor, and rotary motion sensors are new comers to the Nspire family that will be useful for mathematics and science classes.