A calculator makes life simpler as using fingers and toes to count only goes so far. However, not all topics in mathematics are grounded in formulas which can be solved with a calculator, for example transformation.
Without the use of a calculator, the process of transformation in mathematics (rotation, translation, reflection and enlargement) involves high imagination and visualisation skills using various 2D shapes.
SM Sains Tuanku Munawir, Seremban (SASER) students Kamarul Adamm Kamarulzaman, Haziq Mirza Mohamad Bustaman, Muhammad Najmi Zulkiflee, Muhammad Rosyidin Nasir, Dhillon Dhass Zhao and Ahmad Mulhim Akmal Azim have come out with their innovation called SASER Scientific Calculator with a transformation mode to help tackle such questions.
It is the first non-programmable calculator with transformation mode, not only in the country but also the world.
Once the object coordination and transformation instructions are keyed in, the mode helps students to determine the image coordination accurately.
“Transformation questions require the ability to draw and think outside the box,” said Ahmad Mulhim.
“Many students, including us, have difficulty in answering transformation questions.
“For other topics, we use the calculator and get the answer right away. But with transformation, it’s not as easy.”
SASER team coordinator and mathematics teacher Ahmad Yasir Mustafa Bakri is no stranger to creativity, having competed in several innovation competitions.
“At these contests, the participants were focused on science and robotics. What sets us apart is that we have invented something in the area of mathematics that will assist many students who struggle in the subject.
“We have enhanced the functions of the calculator with the mode ─ it’s simple but impactful,” said Ahmad Yasir.
Before proceeding with the project, the team analysed examination results for the mathematics subject and found that most students failed to answer transformation questions.
“Students told the team that they found it hard to work out the right steps to solve the questions.
“Secondary school students learn the transformation topic from Form Two. Matriculation students and undergraduates can benefit from our invention as well,” said Ahmad Mulhim.
Muhammad Rosyidin learnt pro-gramming from scratch to work on the project.
“I am interested in technology. The Internet has helped me a lot in getting the hang of programming languages and Arduino (IDE) software. I am inspired by the many teenagers who have advanced digital knowledge.”
The team had difficulties in assembling the prototype due to time constraint in meeting the deadline for a competition.
“It took a lot of time through trial and error. We made a lot of mistakes as well. But with teamwork, we finished the project on time,” said Dhillon.
“The current prototype was fully funded by the students. However, a local electronics company has shown interest in sponsoring a better prototype,” added Ahmad Yasir.
“I have great hopes for this project. If the calculator penetrates the market, it will change how the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate sets examination questions. Eventually, this innovation could lead to a change in curriculum.”
Team presenter Ahmad Mulhim added that he has acquired the ability to speak fluently and confidently after taking part in the project.
“I have to play my part and deliver the message clearly. If I am unable to do that, people are not going to appreciate our innovation. What we have done is something big and if I don’t emphasise its importance, they will think that it’s nothing special.”
In April, the team emerged champion in the International Engineering Invention Innovation Exhibition 2018 at Universiti Malaysia Perlis.
It also won The Best Young Mathematician award at the International Young Scientist Innovation Exhibition 2018 in Kuala Lumpur.
It took part in Pertandingan Inovasi STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) at the state level and will represent Negeri Sembilan at the national level this month.