From a Classroom to a Submarine in the South Pacific - User Case Studies - Maplesoft

User Case Study: From a Classroom to a Submarine in the South Pacific

Jim Herod, Professor Emeritus for Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Mathematics, has taught at Georgia Tech for 35 years and is now retired in Southwest Alabama. In his retirement, Herod still teaches a Partial Differential Equations class remotely to engineers working toward masters and doctorate degrees. Since his students are located around the world, he needed a way to efficiently communicate lectures, distribute assignments, and receive reports.

Herod relies on Maplesoft's Maple as an e-learning tool for solving mathematical problems and creating interactive technical worksheets for students. Because Maple is intuitive and easy to use, it provided him with a tool for developing customized curriculum and lowering the learning curve for students. Herod's class is a distance learning/distance teaching class. He teaches it all through remote instruction. All mathematics for the class is completed in Maple. Georgia Tech sends students the class material through streaming videos. The students then use Maple worksheets to make the calculations associated with each lecture. They are able to complete homework assignments and pose questions on the class bulletin board as Maple worksheets.

Since students are located across the globe, Maple has proved to be an invaluable distance learning tool. For instance, Herod has taught students flying for the Navy in the North Pacific. One student was even stationed on a submarine. When the submarine surfaced, the student downloaded lectures and assignments on Maple worksheets and then sent the homework back to Herod.

Herod not only uses Maple as a distance learning tool, but is also able to create and teach out-of-the-box problems that are not found in textbooks. For instance, he uses Maple and his mother's cheesecake recipe as a learning tool for his Partial Differential Equations class. To bake her cheesecake, one must heat an oven to 500 degrees and then cool the oven to finish baking the cheesecake—this congeals the eggs on a high temperature and then bakes the cake at the lower temperature. Using Maple, he asked his students to figure out at what time the eggs congealed in the middle of the cake.

Herod also teaches high school classes with Maple when he is invited to guest lecture at the local high school calculus class in Alabama. In this environment, he teaches problems that allow students to think outside-the-box and outside routine calculus problems. Often, he offers mathematical biology problems, demonstrating the solution with Maple.

“Maple is a great teaching tool for out-of-the-box problems and Maple makes it even easier for students to solve and analyze complex problems that generally are not presented in textbooks,” says Herod. “For instance, I use Maple to teach students how to examine data for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, how fast a disease will spread in a population, and what makes the Gulf Stream move along the Atlantic Seaboard.”