“Furbles are the shape of things to come: this software is technology at its best and well worth the money.” John Dabell, TES Magazine
Furbles started life as an idea for teaching statistics in an interesting way with children from KS1 to KS3. The original version was published in 2003 online, and its popularity spread. It has been downloaded and used over 20,000 times in the last five years. In 2006 Sherston Software commissioned me to write a commercial version. This was published in January 2007. Furbles received extremely good reviews from reputable teaching bodies, such as the Association of Teachers of Mathematics.
Furbles was originally devised as an innovative way of imagining statistics and the depiction of statistics. As a trainee teacher there seemed to be a clear difference between students’ ability to interpret graphs and their ability to generate graphs. My interpretation of this difference was that students were learning to create graphs algorithmically, but were not taking time to consider what the graphs actually represented; they did not see how a graph expressed an internal relationship within the data. The idea of Furbles was to bring the graphs and the data that they represented together in a very fundamental way.
Part of the idea of Furbles was also to encourage teachers to take a fresh look at how to teach the subjects. Rather than offering a large amount of content to place students in front of and a mechanism for recording their performance (though it had some of that too), Furbles offered the teacher a platform for their imagination to find new questions and problems within a framework which had charm and fun.
This model of a Furble (right) from Ferndown Middle School is a wonderful example of some work that lead from Furbles at a primary school. If you have other examples of work based on Furbles, I’d love to see them and share them here, so please contact me.
If you are interested in purchasing the 2008 commercial version, then please visit the Sherston Software website. I no longer have any stake in the commercial version, and cannot sell a version to you or broker with them for a version under any circumstances!
The original version and the demo version of the full explore mode will remain be available for free on this website for the foreseeable future.