Using Mathematica for Teaching Part 1

When I was an Undergrad at Fresno Pacific, I was introduced to Mathematica for the first time.

I immediately loved it. I enjoyed of course the mathematical abilities of the program, but also how it was very much (well, is) a programming language too. When I became a teacher, I stopped the need for programming in mathematica but loved Wolfram’s Demonstrations. Especially with a smartboard, they were a great way to illustrate to my students certain mathematical concepts long before Desmos came along and when Geogebra was not nearly as mature as it is now. (Back then, Geometers Sketchpad was king!)

So I’ve long thought of ways to use Mathematica in the classroom. Now that coding/programming is all the rage, I couldn’t help but think recently how mathematica could be used in secondary classrooms or before to teach both programming concepts and math.

For example this page talks about graphing in mathematica. The command is:


Thus, students are taking a look at the function, the input variable and the importance of domain etc when graphing.

Down the aforementioned page is also an interesting teaching application.


Click for copyable input


The graph curves themselves are now linked to further information (from MathWorld) that students can click on for more information. This could be used in the context of transformational geometry applications, changing slope, etc.

I’m just starting to think about this, mainly in the context of my work at OpenEd. Wolfram says soon they’ll have their Demonstrations online without the need for a browser-based plugin, so they will be more easily accessible for virtual manipulatives for students and teachers alike.


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