hearing data?

When I was contemplating a new way of doing things, the first thing that came to mind was a spreadsheet and showing students how to use it as a playground for analyzing data.  The second thing that came to mind as a demonstration of geometric sequences was to hear the data.  I love a command in Mathematica called Play (which I found in their Documentation Center), which takes a function specifying a sound and plays it.  To build on this, what I wanted was to take a sequence of frequencies, generate brief pure tones, and play them in succession.  Easy, right?  It would have been if I had Mathematica, but when I stopped being a student, I let my license lapse.  So I thought I could do it in Python.  It turns out that sound libraries are a pickle to get straightened out.  There are so many, and on top of this I’m having trouble compiling/installing them on Mac OS X.  What have I tried?

  • Snack (required Tcl/Tk Aqua, which isn’t bad to have anyway)

    error reading package index file /Library/Tcl/tdbc1.0b1/pkgIndex.tcl: expected version number but got "1.0b1"
    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File "sound.py", line 20, in
    tkSnack.initializeSnack(root)
    File "/usr/local/lib/python2.6/site-packages/tkSnack.py", line 23, in initializeSnack
    Tkroot.tk.call('snack::setUseOldObjAPI')
    _tkinter.TclError: invalid command name "snack::setUseOldObjAPI"

    It sounds like some sort of screwy version mismatch, but I found a hint. This fixed it. It turns out that Snack can play pure tones using a generator, so it solves my tone problem but it can’t play any waveform without some work.

  • PyAudio
  • PyGame (didn’t like my Fink-installed SDL, but I didn’t pursue further.)
  • PyAudiere

I’ll have to update this later when I have more time to mess with it…

Published in: on 2009.06.04 at 16:26  Leave a Comment  
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First crack at a new way of doing things

Today I asked myself, “What would a 21st century Algebra 1 classroom look like?”  Let’s pretend I’m still in a world with frustratingly many content standards.  OK, so Algebra 1 begins with patterns of numbers, at least arithmetic and maybe geometric sequences.

My first attempt, trying to be meta and multi-modality:

OK, class.  Today we’ve got an interesting bunch of skills to learn, and you’re going to decide how to go about doing it.  Here’s one scenario where it might arise:  Your boss comes in and says, “we’ve got to understand how and why something is happening.  Here’s the data we have so far.  See if you can figure it out and explain it to me.  If we can understand the pattern, then maybe we can know if what we’re trying to do is having any effect.”

That’s pretty open-ended.  You’re going to have to solve the problem on your own and get back to her.  So let’s give you a problem of your own that you can solve and get back to me.  Come up with a proposal for how to learn how to analyze data. I’ll even break it into steps for you.  What’s your proposal?

  1. Propose a way to learn about analyzing data.  Can you come up with simple examples that are easy to explain?  Are there others that are not so easy?  What resources can you use to help you?  (Think books, your peers, Internet, not me)  What tools will be helpful?
  2. What is a way for you to practice and check your learning?
  3. What is a way to prove to yourself and others that you know what you are doing?
  4. What is a way to use or apply this to a practical problem that you care about?  (Think on social, economic, or personal dimensions.)  Research the project briefly, noting sources and collecting useful data to analyze.
  5. Have one of your peers review your plan and make changes based on their suggestions.

When you are done with your proposal, let me know, and I’ll take a look at it and offer my own suggestions.  Then we’ll have you get started carrying out your plan.

It’s not very refined and rather broad, but it hits many of the “21st century” skills mentioned by http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/.

Published in: on 2009.06.03 at 04:56  Comments (1)  
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