Geometry helps to understand and provide knowledge of spatial use to visualise shapes and sizes. Learning to use geometry can also help one to learn to think and reason logically.
Two-(2D) and three-dimensional (3D) shapes which originated in geometry are a part of mathematical topics taught in schools. Learning about 3D shapes is important for students to know their cubes from their cuboids and prisms from their pyramids.
Understanding 2D and 3D shapes, however, can be a challenge for students, said Ahmad Yasir Mustafa Bakri, a mathematics teacher from SM Sains Tuanku Munawir (Saser), Negri Sembilan.
“The topic ‘Plans and Elevations’ in the maths syllabus requires students to draw 2D diagram from different angles. In order to be able to sketch the diagram, students need to imagine the shapes.
According to Ahmad Yasir, this topic also contributes to a large portion of marks for Paper 2 of Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia maths paper.
“Students definitely need an active imagination to not lose marks on the paper. Not everyone has the ability to do so.
Ahmad Yasir said while there are many ‘innovations’ to help students better understand this topic, most are expensive and or time consuming.
“For example, some teachers made the 3D model out of used boxes to help their students. But these boxes do not last long so the teacher will have to make new ones each year.
“Another solution for this problem is to buy or order the 3D model. Usually the cost of these models are high because they are made from plastic or acrylic and not many schools can afford that.”
A graduate in BSc Mathematics from Massey University, New Zealand Ahmad Yasir who has been teaching since 2014 decided to take it to the next level by creating an application that students can use to understand how 3D models work. It only took a month for him to work on the mobile app.
“The idea actually came about during K-novasi 2018, an innovation competition I joined early this year at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).
“Sitting next to my booth was a UKM lecturer who used Augmented Reality (AR) in her classes. It attracted my attention when she explained to me on how she uses it with her students. When students scan the image, notes will also appear in their phone. She also taught me how to use and make my own AR notes.
However, Ahmad Yasir said she only used 2D diagrams in her class. During a meeting with his fellow colleagues where he shared with them the knowledge on AR, an idea popped up on how he could adapt this to an application.
“During discussion, it suddenly came to me that I could use AR for a 3D model in the Plans and Elevations topic to help my students understand better. I shared my idea with other teachers and they were all very positive about it.
“So, I went back home and did some research on 3D modeling. I learned by watching tutorials from YouTube. I struggled with 3D modeling for several days as I had no basic knowledge of 3D modelling software.
“At that time, someone posted on one of the Telegram groups that I was in about an AR app that he developed. I contacted him, and he agreed to help me. Two weeks later, the application was ready.”
His creation, AR Plans & Elevations (ARPE) is an AR application that allows students to interact with 3D models and improve their knowledge of 2D views from different angles.
“Via AR, students will be able to scan the diagram and interact with the 3D model. They can rotate it and view from different angles. Hence, it will help students and improve their visualisation skills.
With the concept parallel to the 21st century learning method, Ahmad Yasir who is teaching Form Four and Five students has started using this app in his class.
“In groups, my students will be provided with a tablet and a diagram. The task is to sketch the aerial and side elevations. Students will scan the image and interact with the 3D model before sketching it out. They are given only seven minutes for each diagram before moving to another table to scan another diagram. After scanning and sketching a few diagrams, each group will present their findings and sketches.”
Ahmad Yasir is not a stranger to innovation although teachers usually have their hands full in school. His interest in innovation competitions started in 2015, where he first competed in Pertandingan Anugerah Guru Inovatif (PAGI) in 2016 for the Xenter Method he created which is an easy way to find the centre of rotation given of an image or object.
“To find the centre of rotation, students are required to imagine the coordinate, which not many students are able to tackle. This is a task required in the PT3 and SPM mathematics.
“Teachers and students used many ways to find the centre of rotation. Some worked to help these students, some made the students more confused. But with Xenter Method, students and teachers able to find the centre of rotation with a few simple steps.
Although he won at the district level and state level, he didn’t get any place at the national level. But that did not stop him from entering more competitions.
Since then he has won a Bronze Award in Teachers’ Innovation Carnival (t-NOVATE) 2016 organised by International Islamic University Malaysia; Runner up in STEM-Based Action Research Competition (2017), Faculty of Education, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Hadiah Sanjungan (Rekacipta Matematik) in Anugerah Persatuan Sains dan Matematik Malaysia last year.
Ahmad Yasir added teachers are already innovative without them realising it.
“Although teachers are always busy but they are usually thinking on solutions to best help students solve their problems.
“Working on many solutions and interventions is an innovation already,” he stressed.
“Innovation is key to problem solving. All teachers are already doing it and should continue doing it. For me, I took it to another level. I want to help not only my students as I believe that there are many students who struggle with the same problem. I hope my innovation will reach more students from any parts of the world and help them.”