Math on a sphere: Making use of public displays in mathematics and programming education
Science on a Sphere (SoS) is a compelling educational display installed at numerous museums and planetariums around the world; essentially the SoS display is a large spherical surface on which multicolor high-resolution depictions of (e.g.) planetary weather maps may be depicted. Fascinating as the SoS display is, however, it is in practice restricted to the use of museum professionals; students (and for that matter, older museum visitors) are unable to create their own displays for the surface. This paper describes a working software system, Math on a Sphere (MoS), that democratizes the SoS display by providing a simple programming interface to the public, over the World Wide Web. Briefly, our system allows anyone to write programs for spherical graphics patterns, and then to upload those programs at a planetarium or museum site and see the result on the giant sphere. This paper describes the implementation of the MoS system; sketches a sample project; and concludes with a more wide-ranging discussion of our user testing to date, as well as strategies for empowering children and students with greater control of public displays.