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MathGroup Archive 1995

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Re: Student version in high schools

  • To: mathgroup at christensen.cybernetics.net
  • Subject: [mg845] Re: Student version in high schools
  • From: rak at canon.co.uk (Richard Kirk)
  • Date: Wed, 26 Apr 1995 00:12:15 -0400
  • Organization: Canon Research Centre Europe Ltd

steve at christensen.cybernetics.net (Steve Christensen) writes:
>I also home school our 11-year old son in mathematics.  Frustrated by
>the generally poor teaching software available for his Mac, I wrote
>some with Mathematica.  Some simple 10 line programs permitting input
>and output and generating random examples of problems have been enough
>to give him practice in various types of computations.   He can set the
>difficulty level of the problem and the number of problems he wants to
>do.  The programs check his answers, keep count of correct results, give
>correct answers when mistakes are made, and time the session.  I could
>obviously have written this all in C or some other language, but it was
>much simpler to do in Mathematica where all the interface stuff existed.
>From concept to his use was about 15 minutes for each little program.

>With a little effort, almost all elementary math could be taught, practice
>given, and even tests given, with Mathematica and without the silly 
>side stuff that "talks down" to kids in the commercical programs.

In these examples I guess the 'teacher' writes the program, and the 
'student' is able to edit and make minor changes.  This is a nice idea.
I wish I had Mathematica at home so I could show things to my children 
on it.  They could hack around the program and see what making certain
changes does.  Cautious children might do the exercises as instructed.
The brighter ones might try and see what the square root of -1 was, or
something like that.

Perhaps WRI could produce a really cut-down version of Mathematica for
schoolchildren that could run even on the sort of computers people like
me can afford.  It could perhaps produce warning messages if you have
large calculation times, large memory requirements, or produce huge
printouts, so the consequences of typing something wrong are restricted.



--
Richard Kirk                      01483-448869 (phone)  01483-448845 (fax)
Canon Research Europe Ltd,                              rak at canon.co.uk




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