What makes Dynamic Geometry Environment (DGE) a powerful mathematical knowledge acquisition microworld is its ability to visually make explicit the implicit dynamism of thinking about mathematical geometrical concepts. One of DGE’s powers is to equip us with the ability to retain the background of a geometrical configuration while we can selectively bring to the fore dynamically those parts of the whole configuration that interest us. That is, we can visually study the variation of an aspect of a DGE figure while keeping other aspects constant, hence anticipating the emergence of invariant patterns. The aim of this paper is to expound the epistemic value of variation of the Dragging tool in DGE in mathematical discovery. Functions of variation (contrast, separation, generalization, fusion) proposed in Marton’s theory of learning and awareness will be used as a framework to develop a discernment structure which can act as a lens to organize and interpret dragging explorations in DGE. Such a lens focuses very strongly on mathematical aspects of dragging in DGE and is used to re-interpret known dragging modalities (e.g., Arzarello et al.) in a potentially more mathematically-relevant way. The exposition will centre about a specific geometrical problem in which two dragging trajectories are mapped out, consequently resulting in a DGE theorem and a visual theorem. In doing so, a new spectral dragging strategy will be introduced that literally allows one to see the drag mode in action. A model for the lens of variation in the form of a discernment nest structure is proposed as a meta-tool to interpret dragging experiences or as a meta-language to relate different dragging analyses which consequently might give rise to pedagogical and epistemological implications.
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