Friday, December 10, 2010

Seventeen very well-spent minutes with Conrad Wolfram

Some blog followers might be interested in a recent post “Re: Do not pass this by: Seventeen very well-spent minutes with Conrad W” [Hake (2010)]. The abstract reads:


ABSTRACT: Michael Paul Goldenberg called attention to a video by Conrad Wolfram titled: “Teaching kids real math with computers” Jonathan Groves responded:

“. . . .Conrad Wolfram. . . . gets to one root of the problem with mathematics education: We spend far too much time teaching hand computation and too little time on other aspects of problem solving: interpreting the problem, setting up a mathematical model for the problem, and interpreting the results of the mathematics in light of the problem we are trying to solve.”

Well said, Jonathan Groves!

Wolfram made two points worth elaborating:

(1) teaching hand calculation is still useful as a basis for mental estimation - see e.g., Mahajan's (2010) Street-Fighting Mathematics

(2) Because of its computational complexity, calculus has traditionally been taught very late; but by using computers, calculus concepts are “amenable to a much younger age group.”

In my opinion, programs such as Wolfram’s “Computer-based Math” and the Kaput Center’s (2010) “Math In Motion” , if used in K-8, can pave the way for the education of ninth graders in the basic ideas of Newtonian mechanics - thus facilitating Leon Lederman's (2001) “Physics First”


To access the complete 13 kB post please click on .

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University

Honorary Member, Curmudgeon Lodge of Deventer, The Netherlands

President, PEdants for Definitive Academic References which Recognize the Invention of the Internet (PEDARRII)

REFERENCES [ URL' shortened by and accessed on 10 Dec 2010.]

Hake, R.R. 2010. “Re: Do not pass this by: Seventeen very well-spent minutes with Conrad W,” online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at Post of 10 Dec 2010 14:02:20-0800 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are also being transmitted to various discussion lists.

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