An Immersive Environment: Teaching Real-World Problems with Mathematica

Paul Abbott, School of Physics, The University of Western Australia

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The Mathematica Edge
  • Provides complete environment for easily creating interactive and engaging courseware, presentations, and exams
  • Automatically and instantly creates dynamic models to visualize real-world problems and reinforce classroom concepts
  • Accesses Wolfram|Alpha's ever-growing collection of computable and up-to-date data on hundreds of topics
"There's more and more pressure on the universities to offer real-world problems, and I think they're not doing it because they don't have the right tool... Mathematica is the tool, so you can get them [students] doing real research a lot more quickly. And that will be a transformation."

Challenge

Paul Abbott, a faculty member in the School of Physics at The University of Western Australia, wants to teach his students a tool that they can use to tackle real-world problems—not only in his physics and mathematics courses, but throughout their studies and into their professional careers.

Solution

Mathematica provides Abbott and his students an immersing and engaging environment to investigate problems—from calculating and visualizing results to documenting and presenting findings. Abbott uses Mathematica to build all of his course materials, including lecture slide shows, student assignments, and exams. His students use Mathematica to visualize surfaces, explore concepts using interactive examples, hypothesize results, and check their work. According to Abbott, "What I love is watching the 'Aha' moment, the moment when they say, 'Oh I get that concept.' And they get more concepts with the assistance of Mathematica. It gives them confidence. They go 'Wow, I can do this,' and that's the most exciting thing about teaching."

Benefits

Abbott says Mathematica's free-form linguistic input and rich Documentation Center make it easy for educators and students to get started with Mathematica and quickly move from basic computations and visualizations to exploring real-world problems and research.


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