Mathematica Donated to UrbanaChampaign High Schools
November 11, 2002Wolfram Research, Inc., headquartered in Champaign, Illinois, is
demonstrating its commitment to education with a recent donation to area
schools. Champaign Central High School, Champaign Centennial High School,
Urbana High School, and University High School will each receive 15 Mathematica
licenses for classroom use as well as three hundred dollars to put toward
math tournament fees. All of the schools' math teams usually make a strong
showing in local, state, and national tournaments, and Wolfram Research is
glad to help defray their participation costs.
Teachers at the schools are very enthusiastic about the donation because
it provides increased access to Mathematica. The teachers plan to integrate it
into their classrooms, using it to create demonstrations, handouts, and
exams. One feature that many teachers appreciate is Mathematica's ability
to automatically typeset traditional mathematical symbols right in the
same document. This feature eliminates confusion caused by messy handwritten
symbols and saves teachers the trouble of integrating image files of the
symbols into typical wordprocessing documents.
Six math teachers at Champaign Central High School have already taken
classes on how to use Mathematica and have written Mathematicabased
lessons for their students. "We're all looking forward to using it for
creating graphics for handouts and tests," says Kara Harmon, head of
Central's math department. "We will use Mathematica to give handson,
studentcentered instruction." Harmon plans to start by introducing
freshmen to the basics of using Mathematica. These firstyear projects
will be saved for comparison with senioryear work.
Some teachers are extending their use of Mathematica beyond the math
classroom. Louie Beuschlein, a teacher at Urbana High School, uses
Mathematica in a variety of other ways. He has developed a loan calculator
that takes in user inputs of term, rate, and down payment and produces an
amortization for a loan. For trigonometry class, Beuschlein uses triangle
animations to help his students better understand the important concepts.
In physics class, he supplements sound wave lessons with a Mathematica
notebook that generates and graphs different sound frequencies. For
presentations on light, he uses Mathematica to create sine graphs that
correspond to light waves. "It's a powerful program," Beuschlein says. "I
would like to make more use of it, for my classes and myself."
The math department at University High School is planning to use
Mathematica to create printed graphics, active classroom demonstrations,
and group work. Craig Russell, the head of the department, explains that
"our staff has a goal of increasing the use of and exposure to technology
throughout our math curriculum." One specific project Russell is preparing
for his Algebra 2 students is a computer algebra system lesson on linear
equations.
For the schools that have already been using Mathematica, this donation
helps save on upgrade costs. It may also make it easier for
ChampaignUrbana students to take part in NetMath, the UIUC (University of Illinois
at UrbanaChampaign) distance
learning program that uses the latest version of Mathematica. Debra Woods,
director of the NetMath program, also hopes that students who are not
strong in math will be able to participate in a new precalculus program
starting spring semester. According to Woods, if past projects are any
indication of future success, "We should see an outcome where students are
less afraid of math and might actually even say they like it!"
Wolfram Research not only is active on the local level but also sponsors
national and international academic and corporate communities with direct
contributions to educationrelated programs and scientific research. For
example, online educational resources such as MathWorld, The Integrator, and
Mathematical Functions
are freely available for anyone interested in learning about math.

