A work book approach

By Gary A. Harris
Department of Mathematics
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, Texas 79409


The following workbook consists of a series of exercises involving the use of the TI-86 "Super Graphing Calculator" (SGC) and the computer algebra system (CAS) MAPLE. The exercises are chosen so as to exhibit various aspects of the different technologies that the author considers important. The ordering and juxtaposition of the exercises is usually important in demonstrating the author's point. Throughout the text the students are expected to reflect on the possible purpose of the exercises and to attempt to determine the author's purpose for including various exercises.

While doing the exercises the students will become familiar with these particular technologies; however, facility with the TI-86 and MAPLE is not really the main point of the course. The author is after a broader goal. Students should focus on learning what wonderful things modern mathematics specific technology can do, and learn how to become "self learners" in dealing with this ever changing area.

It is clear that teachers of mathematics at all levels will have to be competent in the use of these types of technology, and will be expected to incorporate them into their instruction. It is also clear that specific technologies vary greatly for various grade levels in K-12, and even vary greatly among schools within particular grade levels. And of course we all know that today's technology is obsolete tomorrow. It is imperative that today's and tomorrow's teachers be able to adjust to the technology that is available and appropriate in their local situations. For this reason, the emphasis of the exercises in this text is on discovery through directed observations and trial and error.

Finally, it is the hope of the author that in doing these exercises the students will reinforce their understanding of many of the basic principles of mathematics they have learned, used, and in some instances forgotten, during the course of their education. As with any college level course, the degree to which the goals of this course are achieved depends primarily on the dedication of the student. But that's as it should be; after all, it is unlikely that a person will be more dedicated as a teacher of mathematics than as a student of mathematics.