Maple Software Central to Mathematics Teaching at the University of Queensland for 12 years - User Case Studies - Maplesoft

User Case Study: Maple Software Central to Mathematics Teaching at the University of Queensland for 12 years

For many students studying Mathematics at the University of Queensland, using Maple® software is a daily event. In fact Maple has been an integral part of the math taught in many courses including science and engineering.

Senior Mathematics Lecturer and leading authority on Maple, Mike Pemberton, believes what is unique about Maple isn’t that it’s new, it’s that it has stood the test of time having been used in tertiary math teaching throughout the world for over 12 years.

“It’s actually the ongoing improvements in Maple that make it consistently valuable for modern Mathematics and an easy teaching tool,” he said.

Mike Pemberton believes Maple is more advantageous to teachers and students today than ever before. Recent editions have enabled it to interface with everyday programs such as Microsoft Word allowing technical data to be transferred to the simplest of applications such as tables, diagrams and graphs.

Mike Pemberton said the Mathematics courses at the University of Queensland teach well established mathematics supported by modern technology.

“Most of what we teach in first year Mathematics is 300 years old. In second year a lot of what we teach is about 100 years old, by third year most of what students learn is 50 years old and by fourth year we are focusing on modern mathematics."

Mathematics teaching today includes the use of CAS (Computer Algebra Systems) and at any level, Maple can help with problems which would otherwise be very complicated or even impossible.

Mike Pemberton has given papers on Maple at conferences throughout the world and, along with fellow lecturer Associate Professor Peter Galbraith, has conducted research and published widely on the value of Computer Aided Systems in math education.

He believes Maple is one of the most valuable teaching aids and programs for students because it allows for functional applications rather than just numerical calculations.

“Maple has been enhanced over the last 12 years to include improved graphics capabilities, interfaces with widely used software packages, and powerful modern changes such as added solutions for standard partial differential equations.”

Mike Pemberton has classes of up to 700 students with lectures delivered twice to 350 students at a time. His classes can be supported by up to 25 tutors.

He believes this is not an excessively large group with some Universities having math classes of over 2,000 students.

“The class sizes reflect the fact that math is core to so many courses and CAS in the form of Maple have become an integral part of tertiary math teaching throughout the world,” he said.

Mike Pemberton has also used Maple in private consultation work to help organizations solve problems they could not do internally. These included using Maple to develop an interactive computer card game through which the ‘house’ or computer’s chances of winning were very low and cards were given alpha and numeric applications. This highly complex and clever game involved over 220 pages of program code.

Further applications include using Maple to assist in a research project which analyzed minute plant fossils more than 300 million years old, and identified which part of the plant they came from and what the size of the plant was.

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