In this section, we see how one can employ technology to enhance the understanding of multiplication of fractions. Consider the multiplication of the fractions 3/4 and 2/9. Each of these fractions may be represented as shown in the tool below. Note that students can try other fractions using the dropdown box provided. The left square has four partitions three of which are shaded indicating the fraction 3/4 and the square on the right shows two out of nine horizontal sections shaded indicating the fraction 2/9.

Pressing the “multiply” pushbutton then yields an animation of the two boxes indicated move toward each other and form one overlapping square with the respective partitions in the horizontal and vertical directions.

Note that the common overlap consists of six red squares out of a total of 36 which is the result of multiplying the two fractions. Note that the ratio 6/36 simplifies to 1/6 and this can be done by pressing the “change grid” option which yields:

To make the 1/6 more accessible to students, the technology also allows them to move the individual cells, for example, as follows.

For more practice with the technology tool, the students may be encouraged to visit: http://completecenter.gmu.edu/java/multiplication/index.html.

Figure 8.12 Worked example illustrating the steps for multiplying fractions using the area model.