Welcome to the OneStone® Pebbles Home Page!
OneStone Pebbles are a new series of calculus visualization tools developed by Bright
Ideas Software®. Designed from the ground up with input from education professionals1, these unique tools meld current educational theory2 with state of the art graphics technology in
consistent, easy-to-use packages. Each 'Pebble' in the series is a stand-alone program
designed to illustrate a specific topic in the calculus syllabus. The complete list
of Pebbles currently available can be found on the
Pebbles Version History page.
Designed to Stimulate a Deep Understanding of Dynamic Relationships
While the topic of each Pebble is different, the experience of using each remains
as constant as possible, and features several elements identified as contributing
to the development of a deeper understanding of dynamic covariant relationships; e.g.:
- The user is given control of the experience. This is achieved at several levels;
for instance, rather than displaying illustrations/animations of pre-defined functions,
Pebbles display representations of arbitrary user-defined expressions.
- High quality graphics are used to depict the user-defined expression. To be fully
effective as an illustration of a dynamic system, and to truly trigger deeper insight
into a given covariant relationship, the graphics technology employed must be capable
of smooth animation and realistic enough so as not to distract the eye, and mind,
from the mathematical relationship being illustrated. Realistic lighting and shading
effects are essential to this goal, exploiting innate human capabilities to gather
- Information is simultaneously presented in multiple formats. Adding a three dimensional
display teases minds with possibilities beyond normal expectations, even with topics
historically treated exclusively with two dimensional visualizations.
- A minimalist User Interface (UI) design is employed, with as much reuse as possible
between modules. Pebbles are designed to be used primarily as educational tools.
Paramount importance is placed on ease of use and simplicity of design, while maintaining
high-fidelity graphical output. Any student familiar with graphing calculators will
be able to make immediate use of Pebbles programs.
Installing and Using Pebbles
Written in Java and exploiting
Sun Microsystems' Java OpenGL technology, OneStone Pebbles will run on Apple OS
X, Microsoft Windows 2000 or above, Solaris and many common configurations of Linux.
They do require the installation of the appropriate Java run-time on each client
machine, available (again, free of charge) from
www.Java.com (or by clicking on the Java icon at left). It is also
recommended that you ensure each client machine has the most recent available video
drivers installed. Full installation instructions and hardware requirements can
be found on the Installing Pebbles
As mentioned above, the UIs of the various Pebbles are largely identical. The behaviors common
to most Pebbles is described on the Using Pebbles
page; any instructions particular to a given module are included on that module's
web page. Each Pebble download also includes a Help file containing
the relevant information from these web pages.
The 3DSurface Viewer ActiveX control formerly available on our site
has been replaced by the Curve Families Pebble
module. The Curve Families Pebble is capable of all the user functionality of the
3DSurface Viewer and more. In addition, Pebbles are cross-platform and independent
of the web browser; the 3DSurface Viewer only worked on Windows systems running
Internet Explorer. We think this is a better solution.
1 Bright Ideas Software
wishes to thank the following members of the University
of Wyoming faculty for their support: Dr. Jerry Carl Hamann, Computer Science Dept; Dr. Alan Dale
Moore, College of Education and Dr. Bryan Shader, Dept. of Mathematics.
2 See (e.g.) 'Applying
Covariational Reasoning While Modeling Dynamic Events: A Framework and a Study'
by Carlson, Jacobs, Coe, Larsen and Hsu, available at the
Journal for Research in Mathematics Education.