Life and Musings of Ed

Mathematica

In Ed Does Math, Math Tutor on 12 December 08 at 5:08 pm

The A side and the B side of discovering new tools:

Side A–

I feel like an old man who is running out of time to learn.  Having been involved in math education for a number of years in rather small town settings,  I have been respected as a math tutor and have had quite solid success teaching K-12 mathematics [through AP Calculus].  My pedagogical knowledge is pretty solid as well as my grasp of K-12 content, especially since I can draw upon a number of applications from physics and business background/experience.  In school settings, I have always felt comfortable with available technology.  I am fluent with the TI calculators, I can write programs, graph and calculate and display results with the best K-12 teachers around.  Today, however,  I was able to clearly see how little I really know and how far I have to go in order to grab a hold of some self respect again.  Experimenting with Mathematica felt like drowning in information.  There is just so much cool mathematics, I have not even scratched the surface! The graphical and interactive features in Mathematica are astounding.   Here is a simple graphic of a  Knot, which is so easy to generate, it is just ridiculous.  And I have never had any opportunity to study these .  I have no idea whatsoever, how to describe this mathematically, what it’s significance is, what applications it has, … you get the idea.  I feel ignorant.

Knot

Knot

Side B —

This is one of the most exciting days of my life.  I am like a kid in a candy store.  I happen to love mathematics and I have struggled to learn LaTeX in order to typeset math symbolically over the last few years.  I have struggled to display three dimensional graphs and surfaces encountered when teaching about functions and solids of revolution in calculus, for example.  But today, I began learning with a new (for me), amazing tool.  Mathematica has opened a world which was previously veiled, scales have dropped away from my crusted mind’s eye, and I am intellectually alive and stimulated.  I just don’t know why it has taken me so long to jump on the technology band wagon and embrace this tool  warmly and fully, but I am excited that I have seen the light today.  How long before I am productive with this and am sharing new discoveries, time will tell.

So when is the last time you discovered a new tool that opened up seemingly limitless potential for learning?

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