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Using Mathematica in the Mathematics Classroom

Debra J. Woods
Organization: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Department: Department of Mathematics
Education level


  • Begin by getting a general idea of some of the things that Mathematica can do by looking at and running some short and simple prepared Mathematica programs that do things that are related to high school mathematics
  • Learn a few basic facts about Mathematica syntax to help you to avoid mistakes when you begin writing your own Mathematica programs. (You will still make simple mistakes that are annoying but this step will help to reduce the number of mistakes that you make and to find and correct the ones that do occur)
  • Write some very simple programs to do things that would be useful to you in one of your current classes. Often, you can do this by suitably modifying some program that you have seen in Steps 1 or 2
  • Learn how to do some basic procedures that are common ingredients to many classroom projects created with Mathematica such as: writing and displaying text and formulas attractively, creating and running animations, creating lists and tables, entering and using functions, and enhancing graphics so that they are more attractive and informative
  • Select and begin a classroom project that you would like to do for one of the classes that you teach. We will provide you with a file that contains many such projects that have been done by high school mathematics teachers who were Mathematica beginners just a few days before they prepared these projects. You can use these sample projects as a souce of ideas for your own project. You can also use these sample projects as a source of Mathematica programs that you can copy and modify to suit your own purposes.

Course materials are provided as downloadable notebooks. Students will have to purchase a copy of Mathematica to take the course.

This module is designed for mathematics teachers at the 9 - 14 grade levels who are beginners with Mathematica and who want to learn to use this software package to create transparencies and handouts, computer demonstrations, and interactive student lessons for their mathematics classes. This module is available for both Version 2.2 and Version 3 of Mathematica. Using Mathematica in High School Mathematics Instruction was written by Tony Peressini and Debra Woods of the University of Illinois during October 1997.

*Mathematica Technology