On "Mathematica Natsu no Gakkou" (Mathematica Summer School)

Shinya Ohashi, Kashiwa Municipal High School
Kenji Yoshida, Konan Boy's High School

Mathematica,  a software system for mathematics, is well known among secondary school teachers in Japan. But not many of them have used Mathematica in the classroom or have developed teaching materials that use it. Even if some teachers have developed materials based on Mathematica, the use of those materials was limited to that teacher's school and seldom went beyond that school. There weren't any opportunites for most teachers to use such materials even if they existed. For teachers who are Mathematica novices, what is necessary is an opportunity to learn how to use Mathematica in the classroom and how to develop materials based on Mathematica.

A few years ago, we started Mathematica workshops for teachers of mathematics in several prefectures. Many teachers who attended it realized that it was possible to use Mathematica in future mathematics education. Unfortunately, these workshops were held in limited locations.

" Mathematica Natsu no Gakkou" is a project for providing the opportunity to develop Mathematica-related materials for teachers who do not have enough information on how to use Mathematica. The first "Mathematica Natsu no Gakkou" was held in the summer of 1996 with the cooperation of Wolfram Research Asia Limited, the Mathematica User's Group in Japan, and Mathematica dealers in Japan. It was a three-day event. About 20 teachers of secondary education who were eager to develop Mathematica-related materials worked together. Each teacher completed one lesson based on an idea he/she brought. The third workshop was held last summer. So far, about 60 teachers have attended these workshops and various teaching materials have been developed. Anyone can download and use them freely. This, I think, is the first place where mathematics teachers from all parts of the country can communicate with one another.

The objective of this workshop is to develop materials which can be used in a classroom setting. Many types of materials have been made. They are:
1) materials to present ideas to students
2) materials to be used by students for self-teaching
3) materials to introduce Mathematica as a programming language

Thorough examination as to whether or not all of the materials developed at workshops can be used in all kinds of schools will be necessary.

In Japan,  it seems to have become a requirement in the mathematics curriculum to not only utilize computers in mathematics, but to also teach programming in information science classes. Internet or LAN is becoming essential to schools. The possibility of introducing remote education or a credit system along with traditional classroom teaching is now being discussed. There will be a demand for teaching materials that students in any situation can use.

In this presentation, I want to talk about how the "Mathematica Natsu no Gakko" program is run. I also want to show some of the materials made there. Then I want to discuss the problems we confronted, and plans for developing teaching materials in the future.