I’ll never forget the first time I installed Mathematica in college. I was excited by the demos, and wanted to see how much it could help me take my calculus knowledge further — and take the drudgery out of math. Turns out, it was far more complicated to use than I ever anticipated, even more so than my trusty TI-89.
Couldn’t CAS — computer algebra systems — be a bit less complex and more accessible to everyone who doesn’t have time to take a whole class on using them? Computers were designed originally to solve complex math, but normal calculators, spreadsheets, and CAS systems have remained too basic on the one end and too complex on the other to change the way most of us feel about math.
It’s more than understandable that we’d tend to be skeptical when a new app claims to make math simpler for everything from engineering to basic budgets at the same time — but that’s exactly what Calca claims. It’s a markdown text editor fused with a CAS; can it possibly be the answer to the frustrations of math?
Let’s be honest, Apple’s calculator app nearly as appealing as the other stock apps on the Mac; heck, it even falls short against its iOS counterpart. With just the basic functions available, it’s one of the least used (not to mention forgettable) apps on my computer. And of all things, it has a Dashboard sidekick that’s even more forgettable.
On the flip side, this can mean more breathing room for more flexible and powerful mathematical tools for the Mac. In fact, a quick search on the Mac App Store shows a wide range of apps to choose from, ranging from scientific to purpose-specific calculators.
One of these that I’m interested in is Numi by Dmitry Nikolaev & Co, a menubar app that moves away from the typical way we use calculators by incorporating text into computation. The idea is that calculations can be made more comprehensive by adding text into the process, and so it is easier to see and understand how we’d arrive at the result.
I teach high-school students in a one-room schoolhouse in the state of Vermont. I am not an English teacher, science teacher, home-economics teacher, or history teacher; instead, I am a generalist. I teach my students a little bit of everything, and for the really hard stuff, the students work with outside mentors. But of all the things I don’t teach, the one subject I really don’t teach is math. When it comes to math, my skills and knowledge simply don’t add up.
That’s why I wanted to play a game called DragonBox+. Advertised as a “revolutionary math game” for learning basic algebra, DragonBox (I hoped) would help me brush up my skills while also giving me a tool to use with my students. Of course, with high-school students (especially most of my students), any hint of “math” turns them off. If DragonBox does what it says it can do, then maybe my students can get tricked into learning algebra. That’s something I had to try.
Math can pose difficulties for even the most brilliant among us. Complicated equations, complex graphs, or even just troubles adding fractions can cause trouble and frustration for anyone trying to conquer math. If you find yourself or someone that you know struggling with math, rest assured. There are a number of apps that can help to ease the worries of a tough math problem or class.
All ages can find an app to help them. I have included in this collection a number of apps for a variety of ages and subjects. There’s apps here for everything from complex graphing to statistics to simple multiplication problems. Stick with me to learn about some of the many applications available to help you ace that nagging math class you are struggling with, along with a few bonus apps at the end.
With the recent release of iBooks Author from Apple, I started to think more about using Apple products as learning tools. The iBooks Author announcement and accompanying video certainly generate some excitement at the possibilities using the iPad in classrooms and that is great, but I became curious as to what type of applications were currently available in the Mac App Store.
I began exploring and trolling for educational applications. We’ve done roundups on educational tools, such as note taking aids and other utilities of that nature, so I wanted to focus more on applications that directly help you to learn something. This wasn’t an easy task as they proved to be quite difficult to find. Here’s a list of fifty to get you started.