Education

Teaching and learning about math, Maple and MapleSim

Some years ago I taught a calculus course for especially talented students. I made up the following problem as an interesting challenge.

Take a circular disk made of paper. Cut out a sector of some angle α from the disk. Roll each of the resulting two pieces into cones. Let V(α) be the sum of the volumes of the two cones. Find the α that maximizes V(α).

Here is an animated statement of the problem, produced in Maple.

 

The most frequent question I get asked when presenting Maple Learn is: “How is Maple Learn different from Desmos?”  The second most frequent question is: “How is Maple Learn different from GeoGebra?”. And they are great questions! Why invest time in learning and introducing students to something new if it works and behaves exactly like something you already use? I certainly wouldn’t bother, and I can’t imagine that anyone else would either. So, in this post, I will do my best to articulate the differences as succinctly as possible, and we’ll be happy to arrange a demo for anyone who is interested in learning more.  Are you ready for another top 3 list!?

Disclaimer: Before we dive in, I’d like to start by saying that Desmos and GeoGebra are great tools. This post is not intended to disparage them. Rather my goal is to highlight the things that make Maple Learn unique.

So without further ado:

1. Maple Learn is the equivalent to doing math on paper, just better!

Maple Learn is akin to a digital math notebook. The canvas gives students the same feeling as solving a math problem on paper – the ability to work through a problem line by line, with explanations, notes, and additional calculations wherever they want them on the page – only with extras. Students can also use Maple Learn to perform tedious intermediate steps, see a graph to get a better sense of the problem, vary parameters to explore the effect on graphs and results, do a quick side calculation to double-check an individual step, and verify the final result.

2. Maple Learn takes a more holistic approach to learning

Where other tools focus predominately on visualization and getting the final answer, the Maple Learn environment supports much more of the teaching and learning experience.  Students can articulate their thought processes and mathematical reasoning using a combination of text, math, plots and images that can be placed anywhere on the canvas. Teachers can devise lessons in Maple Learn that focus not just on solving problems, but on developing skills in mathematical thinking, communication, and all the competencies and standards outlined in the curriculum. For example, instead of having your students work through the minutia of solving for x from two equations, you can create a document that focuses on having them set up the problem correctly, and then let them use the content panel to get the solution. Or you can use interactive supports, such as Algebra Tiles, to allow them to explain the concept of Completing the Square. Or give them an equation, and ask them to jot down features of the equation. The questions you can pose and the discussion that arises as a result is what sets Maple Learn apart from the rest. Because ultimately, the study of mathematics and science is about understanding, not the final answer.

3. Maple Learn is about math not commands

Maple Learn is an environment for learning math and math-based subjects, not about learning commands. So how do you perform an operation in Maple Learn? Easy! Maple Learn’s intelligent context-sensitive panel offers students a list of relevant operations to choose from, based on the mathematical equation or expression in question. This feature was first introduced in Maple over two decades ago, and it’s one of the most beloved features of students, teachers, and new Maple users, so of course we included it in Maple Learn. The context panel means that you and your students can focus on learning math not commands.

And here’s a bonus for making it all the way through:

4. You can pull math into Maple Learn really easily using the Maple Calculator

Let’s face it, for now at least, there will always be students who will feel more comfortable doing math on paper. It’s like tomato soup and grilled cheese – some things are meant to go together. So to make the transition from paper to digital easier, students can take a picture of their problem, or even their completed handwritten solution and bring them into Maple Learn instantly. That way, they can have the comfort of paper, AND the advantages of the digital environment. (I’d say something about having their cake and eating it too, but all this talk of food is making me hungry!)

One of the things I love most about my job is working and collaborating with math teachers across the globe. Every discussion leads to additional insights into the challenges facing teachers today, and new ideas on how to make Maple and Maple Learn better. And sometimes, I even learn some math I thought I already knew!

A few months ago, I introduced Maple Learn to a friend of mine who teaches high school math in Kingston, Ontario. I showed her how she could use Maple Learn to teach many concepts during our call, including Completing the Square. I walked her through Maple Learn’s free-form canvas and explained how her students could work through a problem line-by-line just as they would in their notebooks. I highlighted the live plot window and showed how her students could graphically verify that their solution was equivalent to the initial expression. And, I demonstrated the power of Maple Learn’s intelligent context panel and how her students could check their answers algebraically. I thought I had done a good job, until she said: “Karishma, that’s not how we teach Completing the Square anymore!”. Huh! I was floored. What I had shown was the way I had learned the concept so many years ago. I was surprised to learn that there was a new way.

My friend then introduced me to Algebra Tiles and how she used it to teach Completing the Square. Once we went through a few examples, I realized that I had never fully appreciated what I was doing when I completed the square. I had memorized a series of steps without really understanding what I was trying to do. The progression of our discussion naturally led to the inevitable question: “Karishma, does Maple Learn include Algebra tiles? Because that would be a game-changer for my students. Currently, we use physical tiles, but with remote learning, we need something digital.” At that time, my answer was ‘not yet’; however, with the introduction of image support last week, I’m happy to announce that Maple Learn can support algebra tiles and other interactive supports.

Here is the Maple Learn document I created on Completing the Square using Algebra Tiles.

Feel free to change the expressions listed in the document and share it with your students. To see algebra tiles in action inside Maple Learn, take a look at the short video that I created.  If you have any suggestions for improving this application, please feel free to let me know.

 


 

Yes, that’s right! You can now add images to your Maple Learn documents! Whether you’re adding a diagram to help visualize a physics concept, inserting the logo or your school or organization, or just adding a cute selfie so that everyone knows how great you looked while making this document, you can add any image you’d like using the image icon on the toolbar. You’ll need to be logged in to access this new feature, but luckily making an account is completely free!

To insert the image, just click the image icon and select the image you want from your computer or tablet. To resize it, highlight the image and click the image icon again. You can also turn the image into a hyperlink by highlight the image and clicking the link button! Now, not only will your document look snazzy, but it can take you anywhere you’d like.

Images aren’t the only exciting new feature in Maple Learn. If you were excited by all the circles in the last set of updates, then you’re going to love this one, because we’ve introduced the Circle command! Just plug in the centre of the circle and the radius, and bam, circle. What’s more, you can easily turn your circle into an arc by adding the angle measures of the two endpoints of the arc. Infinitely customizable round objects, right at your fingertips. To learn more, check out the How-To documents Using the Circle Command and Plotting Arcs.

Ancient Greek mathematicians thought that there was nothing that couldn’t be constructed with only a compass and a straightedge. A wise math professor once tasked my class with using these same tools to draw a pretty picture. With Maple Learn’s Circle function and ability to graph straight lines, you have all the tools you need to complete this same task! We look forward to seeing the results.

 

Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación
Santiago de Chile

Derivative operator on vectors of real variable (R3): applied to curvilinear motion with Maple and MapleSim

In the present work it will be demonstrated how the derivative operator acts in functions of real variable in the movement of a particle that performs a curvilinear trajectory; using the scientific software of the Maplesoft company known by the names Maple and MapleSim, because nowadays most university teachers (higher education) do not visualize the movement of the particle in real time as well as the results of the calculations of speed and acceleration simultaneously. The objectives achieved are to use the vector operator with the help of these programs. As a theoretical tool we will use the three-dimensional vector spaces of real variable with Newton's notation. The methodology we have used was native syntax and embedded components using block diagrams. For the case of particle motion we use the graphical programming proposed by MapleSim. Viable results were achieved for motivational effects and time reduction in complex calculations without neglecting innovation in physical sciences, for teachers in higher education and university students. This work is self-sustaining via Maple Cloud.

Lenin Araujo Castillo

Ambassador of Maple

This is my second try---my previous post about the Maple Conference  https://www.maplesoft.com/mapleconference/2021/ seems to have vanished into thin electrons.

Anyway!  The conference opens tomorrow!  There are many really interesting prerecorded talks, three live plenaries, two excellent panels, and registration is free!  See the above link.

I look forward to "seeing" you tomorrow.

Rob Corless, co-Chair of the Program Committee

on behalf of the organizers

Dear all,

The November issue of Maple Transactions is now up (we will be adding a few more items to that issue over the course of the month).  See https://mapletransactions.org/index.php/maple/index for the articles.

More importantly, Maple Primes seems to have a great many interesting posts, some of which could well be worked up into a paper (or a video).  Maple Transactions accepts worksheets (documents, workbooks) for publication, as well, although we want a high standard of readability for that.  I invite you to contribute.

The next issue of Maple Transactions will be the Special Issue that is the Proceedings of the Maple Conference 2021 (see my previous post :)

-r

Hi to all,

Dr. Lopez's "Advanced Engineering Mathematics with Maple" is just excellent... I strongly advise...

That book is my most favorite and Dr. Lopez is my favorite teacher :)

Here's a podcast that covers a few topics that get discussed on MaplePrimes.
 

We all like finding the right tool for the job. In the Sep 2021 episode of the Engineering Matters Podcast “#127 – Tools for Thinking” you can discover how far engineers have come in their quest for better tools.

It features contributions from several members of the Maplesoft team as they discuss how the user experience shapes the adoption of engineering software tools.

The hosts have fun describing some early calculation hacks - from early Sumerian farmers using their fingers as tally counters, to the paper calculus notebooks of the 1850s used by historical engineering figures like Isambard Kingdom Brunel. What starts as a necessity gets improved over time to save them mental effort – all driven by the way users interact with the tool.

This episode gives a behind-the-scenes look at some of the decisions that shaped the engineering product that is now Maple Flow from its roots in Maple. Maplesoft CEO Laurent Bernardin describes the spark of innovation in the late 1970s, when two professors at the University of Waterloo developed Maple. “The two professors got together, realising that there was a need in math education for a tool to help with calculations and setting out to create that tool. And Maple was born quickly, was adopted across universities around the globe.”

As engineers typically work in ways far removed from the regular academic setting, Product Manager Samir Khan weighs in on the shift that comes from a different user base: “Different tools have different design intents,” says Khan. “Some tools are designed for programmers such as code development environments, like Visual Studio. Some environments are aimed at mathematicians, people who need precise control over the mathematical structure of their equations, and some environments are designed for engineers who simply want to throw down a few equations on a virtual whiteboard and manipulate them and get results.”

The conversation also touches on the design of the GUI itself. Margaret Hinchcliffe, Maple’s Senior GUI Developer expresses the importance of smoothing the user experience - drilling down and taking “the typical tasks that people want to do the most, and make those the most immediate. So really focusing on how many keystrokes do they need to do this task?”.

Ironically the idea of the paper notebook still has features that are desirable. Khan muses on the idea that Maplesoft has “taken the first step with having a virtual whiteboard, but Maple Flow still relies on keyboard and mouse input”. He offers suggestions for what may be next in the industry: “It’d be interesting to see if we can take advantage of modern advances in deep learning and AI to imitate what humans are doing and interpreting handwritten mathematics.”

You can listen to the entire podcast (~30 min) here: https://engineeringmatters.reby.media/2021/09/30/the-evolution-of-tools-for-thinking/

From a tweet by Tamás Görbe : plotting Chebyshev polynomials in polar coordinates leads to some interesting pictures.  Screenshot here, link to the worksheet (and some perhaps interesting puzzles) at the end.

 

ChebyshevRose.mw

 

As a student I came across an amazing lab experimentA T-type structure with two masses attached to it showed a sudden change in oscillation mode.  

 

With MapleSim I was able to reproduce the experiment.

At the time I was told that this perplexing phenome happens because there are always imperfections. 

 

Today we would probably say that the symmetry has to be broken. The attached example has two parameter sets that a) break symmetry of boundary conditions and b) by structural asymmetry (i.e imperfection). Asymmetry in the initial conditions should also be possible (but I could make work with flexible beams). 

Compared to coupled oscillators that exchange energy via a coupling spring, this example exchanges energy via masses. In fact in its simplest implementation only one mass and two elastic structures are required for this type of mode coupling. MapleSim multibody library offers plenty of possibilities to demonstrate thisFlexible beams are not required. However, flexible beams show mode coupling beautifully and allow a simple reproduction in real life. For that the worksheet contains a parameter set to build a real model with steel wires. Tuning by adjusting the length of the vertical post is required since nonlinearities already shift frequencies in the model. 

 

I would be interested in other cool examples of mode coupling. I am also interested in solutions for flexible beams that impose asymmetry in the initial conditions. To keep it realistic at the start, the T should be bend as one would bend it with a fingertip in x direction. It would be even more realistic if the arms are flexed by gravity with zero velocity at the start of the simulation. How can this be done? 

 

Flexible_beam_mode_coupling.msim

Dear all,

Reversion of series---computing a series for the functional inverse of a function---has been in Maple since forever, but many people are not aware of how easy it is.  Here's an example, where we are looking for "self-reverting" series---which I called "ambiverts".  Anyway have fun.

 

https://maple.cloud/app/5974582695821312/Series+Reversion%3A+Looking+for+ambiverts

PS There looks to be some "code rot" in the branch point series for Lambert W in Maple, which we encounter in that worksheet.  Or, I may simply have not coded it very well in the first place (yeah, that was mine, once upon a time).  Checking now.  But there is a workaround (albeit an ugly one) shown in that worksheet.

 

Dear all;

Some of you will have heard of the new open access (and free of page charges) journal Maple Transactions https://mapletransactions.org which is intended to publish expositions on topics of interest to the Maple community. What you might not have noticed is that it is possible to publish your papers as Maple documents or as Maple workbooks.  The actual publication is on Maple Cloud, so that even people who don't have Maple can read the papers.

Two examples: one by Jürgen Gerhard, https://mapletransactions.org/index.php/maple/article/view/14038 on Fibonacci numbers

and one by me, https://mapletransactions.org/index.php/maple/article/view/14039 on Bohemian Matrices (my profile picture here is a Bohemian matrix eigenvalue image).

I invite you to read those papers (and the others in the journal) and to think about contributing.  You can also contribute a video, if you'd rather.

I look forward to seeing your submissions.

Rob Corless, Editor-in-Chief, Maple Transactions

Welcome to Maplesoft Orientation Week!  We know what a difference math software can make when it comes to enhancing student learning, but we also know that everyone is very busy at the beginning of the school year! So our goal for this week is to make it easier for high school and university students to select the best math tool for their needs, and help them get on track for a great math year.  The week’s activities include free training on Maple and Maple Learn, discounts on Student Maple, live events with some of your favorite math TikTok personalities, and even the chance to win an iPad Air!  Check out all the activities now, and plan your week or tell your students.

Orientation week runs Mon. Sept. 20 – Fri. Sept. 24.

Mathematics for Chemistry with Symbolic Computation

J. F. Ogilvie

            This interactive electronic textbook, in the form of Maple worksheets, is released in its sixth edition, 2021 August.  This book has two major divisions, mathematics for chemistry -- the mathematics that any instructor of a course in chemistry would wish a student thereof to understand and to be able to implement, and mathematics of chemistry, in the sense of the classic volumes by Margenau and Murphy -- mathematical treatments of particular topics in chemistry from an introductory post-secondary level to a post-graduate level. The content, which includes not only chapters in previous editions that have been revised but also additional chapters on quantum mechanics, molecular spectrometry and advanced chemical kinetics, has been collected during two decades, with many contributions from other authors, acknowledged in particular locations.  Each chapter includes not only explanatory treatments but also illuminating examples and exercises with chemical applications where practicable.

 

Mathematics for chemistry      0  introduction to Maple commands

                                                 1  numbers, symbols and elementary functions

                                                 2  plotting, geometry, trigonometry and functions

                                                 3  differential calculus

                                                 4  integral calculus

                                                 5  multivariate calculus

                                                 6  linear algebra

                                                 7  differential and integral equations

                                                 8  probability, statistics, regression and optimisation

Mathematics of chemistry       9  chemical equilibrium

                                                10  group theory

                                                11  graph theory

                                                12  quantum mechanics in three parts -- models, atoms and molecules

                                                13  molecular spectrometry

                                                14  Fourier transforms

                                                15  advanced chemical kinetics

                                                16  dielectric and magnetic properties

The content freely available at https://www.maplesoft.com/applications/view.aspx?SID=154267 includes also a published report on teaching mathematics with symbolic software and an interactive periodic chart that yields information about particular chemical elements and their isotopic variants.

            The nature of this electronic interactive textbook makes it applicable with an instructor in a traditional setting, or computer laboratory, for which the material of mathematics for chemistry could be reasonably covered in three or four semesters, but even for self study.  The chapters on quantum mechanics and Fourier transforms are available as separate textbooks in the same format.

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