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Re: Mathematica Animations by High School Students

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  • Subject: [mg102034] Re: Mathematica Animations by High School Students
  • From: fd <fdimer at>
  • Date: Mon, 27 Jul 2009 05:55:09 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <h4h1ss$i9q$>

Great animations, these kids certainly have a bright future ahead!!!

It's very important to use Mathematica to show the playfulness and
beauty of mathematical ideas, and for that matter, science in

On Jul 26, 5:50 pm, Helen Read <h... at> wrote:
> You might enjoy looking at some Mathematica animations created by a
> group of 30 very bright high school students at the Vermont Governor's
> Institute in Mathematical Sciences about a month ago. (I meant to post
> the link here sooner, but am just now getting around to it.)
> The students had no previous exposure to Mathematica, and I had them for
> only a single 75-minute session. We made liberal use of the Classroom
> Assistant palette so that I didn't have to teach them much syntax. I
> began by showing them how to use ContourPlot to make a static plot of
> familiar equations (lines, circles, parabolas, etc.). Then we discussed
> the idea of introducing a parameter into an equation so that we could
> animate it in some way (e.g., change the slope of a line or move it up
> and down, that sort of thing). Then we took a ContourPlot of two lines,
> one horizontal and one vertical, threw in a parameter and wrapped
> Animate around the whole thing, to make the vertical line move from left
> to right. I then told them to see if they could get the horizontal line
> to move from top to bottom at the same time the vertical was moving left
> to right. I gave them a few suggestions of other things to try, and they
> took it from there. A few helpers and I walked around the room helping
> out and answering questions.
> I have taught week long Mathematica course at the Math Institute in past
> years, but this was the first time that I did it only a single session.
> The Classroom Assistant palette was a big help in that regard. Also,
> using ContourPlot (which might seem an odd choice) worked very well. I
> wanted them to be able to plot circles, ellipses, vertical lines, etc.,
> and didn't have time to teach them about parametric equations the way I
> would have if we had all week. With ContourPlot they could put in
> familiar Cartesian equations, and all of them came up with at least one
> neat animation within the time that we had. Some of the older kids with
> a bit more math behind them asked if it's possible to plot polar curves
> ("Yes! Here, let me show you where to find PolarPlot on the palette"),
> and a few of them made some 3D animations.
> Here are some of the students' animations. Enjoy.
> One minor aggravation in all this: I find it baffling that exporting an
> animation from Animate or Manipulate from Mathematica into any video
> format results in the animation running forward and then backward. I
> have not found any way to get it to export so that it runs once in the
> forward direction only. The kids' animations look OK going forward and
> back, but there some things we would really like to run in one direction
> only. AnimationDirection->Forward doesn't do anything when you export,
> as far as I can tell.
> --
> Helen Read
> University of Vermont

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