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Cabri 3D

  1. Published by Chartwell Yorke

  2. Maths

  3. KS4 and post 16

KS4 Content Evaluation by Steve Genge


Purpose of the Program
Cabri 3D allows the user to construct and manipulate solid geometry objects in three dimensions via a 2D interface. As such, it provides a tool for teachers and students to explore properties of 3D geometric constructions, to model alternative constructions, and to derive proofs and improve reasoning.

This package contains the new 3D version of the popular dynamic geometry software, Cabri-geometre. It allows solid geometry models to be created and manipulated onscreen. To users of the 2D software (Cabri, Cabri 2, Cabri 2+) this program provides a logical step up into the world of 3D geometry using tools and an interface that will be largely familiar.

Supporting Documentation
The evaluation version of Cabri 3D did not include any paper-based user guides except for a very useful introduction to Cabri 3D. This describes the key features of the software, helpfully identifying differences between Cabri 3D and Cabri 2/2+ along the way. It also includes a set of tutorials to work through. These are very good with excellent accompanying screenshots.

The software packaging claims that a user manual is included on the CD-ROM as a .pdf file. I could not locate this on my version of the software and would have found this to be very useful as the main program does not include a Help section.

Technical Support
The printed introduction to Cabri 3D that accompanied the evaluation version of the software provided a comfortable and supportive framework for getting to know the main features of the software, especially where it differs from the 2D version. A quick start-up guide is also included as a .pdf file; this is installed onto your hard drive and is a useful source of reference. Other than a link to I did not locate any other sources of technical support, but my previous experience with the publisher is that a phone call to them always gets a sympathetic response.

Curriculum Relevance
All aspects of 3D geometry can be created and manipulated in the Cabri 3D environment, making the software a useful tool for use throughout Key Stage 4 and A/AS level Mathematics.

Cabri 3D can be used at intermediate tier GCSE Mathematics to create and model the platonic solids, possibly in order to derive formulae for calculating volumes and surface areas. The software really comes into its own, however, at higher-tier GCSE, where it allows students to model, animate and manipulate 3D images and structures. An increasingly key requirement at Key Stage 4 Mathematics is for students to be able to apply reasoning to problems. Cabri 3D gives students the opportunity to experiment in a dynamic and interactive way that would not have been possible to visualise before.

Cabri 3D will be even more useful for post-16 students of Mathematics.

Analysis of Contents
As a tool for exploring 3D geometry this package is entirely appropriate for average and more-able students of Mathematics at Key Stage 4 and beyond. Students with previous experience of using Cabri 2/2+ at Key Stage 2 and/or Key Stage 3 are likely to be able to apply their existing knowledge to progress speedily to the 3D software.

The software makes the most of the latest high-speed processors and 3D graphics cards to bring full 3D solid geometry to life. Onscreen imagery is crystal-clear and animates freely. All models and views can be saved and exported to other applications such as Word or PowerPoint as high resolution image files.

The nature of the software makes it more likely to have applications within higher level Mathematics, and so will probably be used by more able students. Because it is a powerful animated visual tool, however, it opens up areas of geometry to visual learners who might otherwise find geometry challenging.

This is a top quality piece of Mathematical software that brings 3D geometry to life. It builds on the successful structures of its 2D predecessors, Cabri 2 and Cabri 2+, but also utilises the power and speed of modern PCs and 3D graphics cards to create a dynamic 3D geometry environment.

The software is well thought out, allowing numerous different visualisations of models simultaneously. The ability to export models and views as high quality images at any point will be welcomed by students and teachers alike.

Familiarisation is supported by a simple start-up guide and a set of tutorials based on a workshop given at Cabri World 2004, but the lack of onscreen Help may disappoint some users.

Cabri 3D is a logical and affordable next step for teachers and students who are used to working with Cabri in two dimensions. This is an outstanding program that will support students of geometry from GCSE through to higher education.

KS4 Classroom Evaluation by Tom Sparrowhawk

Installation & Access
The title was installed from a CD onto a NT4 network and was loaded onto 30 workstations. The title was installed on the first occasion without any problems. The software did not require any screen resolution changes and could be viewed successfully on a 800 x 600 screen resolution.

The software uninstalled and reinstalled without any problems. The program loaded quickly when the pupils opened it and performed well with no access or speed problems. All files opened instantly and responded instantly to pupils' input.

Updates can be downloaded via the Help menu and connection to the Internet, but this process was not tried during this evaluation. However, I did visit the title's website to check out resources and there were no problems with access speeds.

Planning Classroom Use
What This Product Offers
The software allows teachers to demonstrate or pupils to design a full range of 2D and 3D shapes including polyhedrons, circles, spheres, etc. The objects can be viewed in a manner of ways including orthogonal, oblic, central and natural perspectives. They can be rotated manually or automatically to examine their 3D features and construction. You can examine intersection of points, segments, rays, vectors, planes, sectors, set midpoints, parallels and perpendiculars, bisectors and vectors. Points, line and plane of symmetry and translation can be examined. All objects can also be saved as bitmaps for use in other programs and exported into web documents as animated objects (although I did not try this). Students are able to manually or automatically rotate objects so the previous features and characteristics can be examined and visualised.

The latest version Cabri 3D1.1 has a number of new features including tool tips and an improved user guide. It includes a number of geometrical improvements including new prism and pyramid tools, improved vector tools and improved handling of large sphere. The interface is now even easier to use and includes tool tips which offer more detailed explanations of how to use the currently selected item. The new interface also allows greater interaction with the selected items, for example, circles and spheres can be selected by their centre and radius, segments and completed solids can be moved on a plane, rotation speeds can be changed and images can easily be animated to show changes in their trajectory. Right clicking has been added to include submenus and to immediately preview changes before making a selection. These and other improvements make the software easier to use and generally improve its ability to model geometrical shapes and Mathematical expressions of these shapes.

The software could be used to cover all aspects of 3D Geometry, including National Curriculum targets 2j and k creating and exploring the properties of 2D and 3D shapes, manipulating, experimenting and animating these shapes, exploring cuboids and shapes made from cuboids. The software allows the modelling of platonic solids, deriving formulae for calculations of volume and area, examining geometrical reasoning (NC 2a and b, recalling properties), examining properties of triangles and rectilinear shapes (NC 2), circles and inscribing regular polygons, transformations, coordinates, measurements and construction of varied shapes, mensuration and calculations of area and volume, examining loci by constructing shapes and paths.

One of the best features of the software is that it allows teachers to demonstrate or students to experiment with all the features mentioned above in a dynamic and interactive way, so that they can visualise their outcomes.

Teachers can also design their own models or use one of the range of models already designed to demonstrate the properties of 2D or 3D shapes. This would be particularly useful with lower ability sets or visual learners, who may not fully understand the Mathematical properties of shapes in enough detail to design them or be capable of mastering the full range of tools that the software offers.

Purpose of Using This Product
Two lessons were used to evaluate Cabri 3D and a further lesson to evaluate a new, improved version - Cabri 3D1.1. The objectives of the first lesson were to allow students time to gain confidence in using the software and to become competent in designing a range of geometric shapes. The objective of the second lesson was to be able to identify the features of different geometric shapes and the relationships that exist between different points and lines (surface area, volume, translation, plane symmetry, point symmetry, etc.).

By the end of the second lesson the majority of students were able to construct a range of shapes, define their characteristics and calculate surface area and volume (if given formulae). They also were able to manipulate the shapes, view the shapes from different planes and animate and rotate objects by 360 degrees to examine their features in 3D.

I used Cabri 3D1.1 in a third lesson. This new and improved version features an excellent user guide and tool tips, plus the ability to preview changes before making a selection, and is very much simpler to use. The pupils needed far less help than with the previous version and this made teaching a pleasure. Pupils tried out all the new tools and found them very easy to use. They especially enjoyed using the 'throw to animate' feature and were able to animate selected objects using several different points and examine the changes made along a line of symmetry. This was an excellent way to demonstrate trajectory and symetrical changes about a point or line.

The title is not designed to meet students' individual needs. It is probably best suited to higher ability Key Stage 4 pupils. However, you could demonstrate many of its features to lower ability pupils using an interactive whiteboard. The program would be very good for visual learners. The level of the activity cannot be controlled by the software and must be set by the teacher in accordance with the ability of the pupil.

Classroom Experience
Classroom Organisation
I chose to evaluate this software with the Year 10 Mathematics top set, as these students tend to be in the top ability set for ICT and therefore should be able to adjust to using the tools and facilities in Cabri 3D, which are different to those they normally use. Cabri 3D provides good coverage of the Key Stage 4 higher National Curriculum levels, especially the ability to animate and manipulate 3D geometric structures.

All lessons were carried out in an ICT suite and an interactive whiteboard and projector were used as an aid to whole class teaching. The first lesson was dedicated to a 'follow me' session on how to use the tools and features of Cabri 3D. After initial difficulties (getting used to knowing which icon and menu did what), the students found it reasonably easy to follow my actions, although I had to proceed slowly and after inserting each step in the construction process, quickly checked their screens to ensure that they had followed the instructions correctly. The students had never used Cabri 3D before and had little experience of using other types of geometry software. Each pupil had their own workstation and access to the school network.

Following a third lesson using the newer version, Cabri 3D1.1, students found the software much easier to use. The tool tips helped students to manipulate objects and the instructions in the new user guide were easier to follow and gave more guidance. The ability to right click to select objects, lines and point and preview changes prior to select was a very helpful tool. The new ability to animate objects through a line of trajectory was very useful and pupils enjoyed watching their objects animated on the screen and were able to examine lines and points of symmetry while animating their objects. The new version allows masked objects to be shown and as this was something that had caused confusion with pupils in the past, Cabri 3D1.1 was really helpful in enabling pupils to get a real sense of shape and trajectory.

Context of Use
Unfortunately, the timing of using the software did not fit in with the subject area the students were studying at the time, although they had previously studied many of the areas of geometry required to make progress in the lesson. As they were using the software outside of the context of their study at the time, all students were given examples of any formulae they required and definitions of any Mathematical terminology that was likely to be used. In addition, one lesson was devoted to getting to grips with using the software, where the necessary ICT skills required to use the software were covered.

All the pupils were given identical tasks to complete and differentiation was by outcome. The lessons concentrated on Maths outcomes and not ICT outcomes. The software could be used to cover some aspects of ICT, such as modelling Mathematical principles and hypothesis setting, but in general it is far more suitable to use in the Mathematics Curriculum than the ICT Curriculum.

For homework, the students were asked to annotate their printouts to show surface area and volume calculations and the general geometric features of the shapes they had created.

Ease of Use - Design & Navigation
The menu and toolbar design are very different to the typical programs that the students normally use (Microsoft products). However, they found the new version of Cabri 3D1.1 much easier to use. The new tool tips were very useful and helped the students to construct the various objects, lines and points, giving useful guidance and explanations, especially with regard to the use of short cut keys. The new user guide was also easier to follow and gave full instructions on the program's use. Students commented that they would like to be able to search the user guide for specific tips, however, the introduction of the tool tips meant that this feature would be less useful as the guidance they required appeared as they selected an object, line or point, etc. Certainly, Cabri 3D1.1 would now be easy to use without the need to download additional teaching material.

In brief, the new tools were all tried and tested and all passed with flying colours. The ability to simply right click to select objects and points and preview changes before making them allowed students to make clear and useful presentations of their work as they constructed the objects. These new additions made manipulation and construction of objects very easy and Cabri 3D1.1 was generally a pleasure to use.

Monitoring & Assessment
The software is not designed to contain any monitoring or assessment activities. I found the easiest way to monitor progress was by question and answer sessions after each stage. I also set a short test at the end of the second session to check pupils' knowledge and progress. The teacher could also get the students to annotate their printed work or to question them during or at the end of the teaching process.

Feedback from Pupils and Other Staff
Cabri 3D1.1 is now much easier to use and the improvements mean that it is no longer necessary to constantly browse the user guide to find out the short cut keys and methods needed to construct and manipulate objects.

The students found the ability to preview changes before selecting them very useful. They enjoyed using the 'throw to animate tool' and were able to follow animate objects within a selected trajectory. Where possible, all the new improved tools and features were tried and were found to be useful additions to the software.

Possibly, one small improvement to Cabri 3D1.1 could be to include a seach facility within the user guide so that the user does not need to browse through the guide to find the information they need. However, the fact that the tool tips tend to highlight the information you require as you select a tool or object makes this less important than with the previous version.

Ease of Use
I found the original Cabri 3D difficult to use and was disappointed with the Quick Start manual and Help facilities. Because of this, I decided to use one lesson to familiarise the students with the software and used an interactive whiteboard and 'follow me' tactics to introduce the menus and facilities offered by Cabri 3D. This method of instruction was generally very successful and by the end of the lesson the majority of students were competent in using many aspects of the software and able to produce a range of 3D models.

However, Cabri 3D1.1 features a new user guide and tool tips that have made the title a lot easier to use. The user manual is well designed and enables a novice user with good knowledge of Mathematics to start to use the tools and features immediately. The ability to select objects and points using right click and then preview changes before making any changes is also a very useful improvement in the title's design. Tool tips negate the need to browse through the user guide. They add useful additional information on how to manipulate the object and give useful references to the selection and use of short cut keys.

Classroom Experience
I used Cabri 3D and Cabri 3D1.1 with the top Maths set in Year 10 because many of the aspects of the Curriculum that it covers make it ideally suited to Key Stage 4 higher ability groups and Key Stage 5 studies. The main material for the first two lessons involved examining designing 3D objects and features of platonic solids. Using Cabri 3D, the students had lots of difficulties with this. I expected that this would happen, so moved to a more didactic approach and used the interactive whiteboard and 'follow me tactics' to introduce the features of the menu and icons.

In the second lesson I set the group a task to design a number of platonic solids and describe their attributes. The homework was to annotate their printouts to show lines or points of symmetry, vectors, parallels, translation and rotation about an axis, etc. Generally, the pupils coped very well and were able to achieve the objectives of the lesson.

I used Cabri 3D1.1 in a third lesson. The addition of a very useful user guide and the tool tips, together with the ability to preview changes before making a selection, makes the use of Cabri 3D1.1 and the mastering of its many features very simple. The pupils needed far less help than with the previous version and this made teaching a pleasure. Pupils tried out all the new tools and found them very easy to use.

Cabri 3D1.1 is an excellent tool for constructing and demonstrating geometry in the classroom and making it come alive. It is now simple to use and a pleasure to teach with and the authors should be congratulated for making so many improvements.