Date: Feb 22, 2013 12:47 PM
Author: kirby urner
Subject: making math interactive

My daughter develops high enthusiasm for STEM and then finds herself in one
of those grinds, like in high school, where they drone on at the whiteboard
ad infinitum. Where's the engagement? Where's the hands on? It's like
being in a language lab to learn Spanish, but only the teacher gets to talk.

The interactive / engaged math class, on the contrary, features some kind
of command line or responsive tablet of your own, where you learn to scribe
and solve, not just for homework, but as a way of learning the information.
Better than flash cards. Your teachers demonstrate using it effectively
in the classroom.

With regard to computer languages, only some languages natively sport
what's called REPL: Read, Evaluate, Print, Loop (i.e. do it again). In
xBase (marketed as dBase) we had "the dot prompt". In Python, it's >>>.
APL has it, J has it, Scheme has it. BASIC has it. LOGO. Those that
don't (e.g. C) are not as easy to tackle at first.

Applying that same sense to math, we went from slide rules, as a magical
device (that needed to be explained, in terms of logs, very healthy) to
scientific calculators to computers in short order. The University of
Illinois did a lot of experiments and to this day its offshoots aim to
provide Mathematica as the "dot prompt" for calculus and much else besides.
Wolfram continues to make inroads.

So do a lot of the interactive (REPL) languages though, J included. The
statistics may not be impressive (yet) but there's a lot of propitious
talk. One of those talks will be mine today for example, details to follow.

Kirby