Here are some tools which I've either used (or explored) for mathematics education. They aren't all open source, but they are all extremely useful, and they are all free to use (free as in free beer, some of them are also free as in free speech).

**This program** lets you explore algebra and geometry, much like it's proprietary cousin, Geometer's Sketchpad. Having used both, I actually prefer **Geogebra** because I find it to be more flexible and easier to use. It requires Java to run, and can either run in a web browser with no download, or you can install it to your computer using the offline installer.

**The Mathematics Visualization Toolkit** is exactly that, a program which lets you visualize mathematics. You can use it to build complex visualizations, or you can use the visualizations which are already included (which are awesome by themselves). You can either use the web start version of the toolkit, or download an offline installer.

**Scratch** is an excellent program for learning programming but also mathematics like variables, sequences, Cartesian coordinates, and other useful mathematical concepts. Developed at MIT, it is a free download and includes a strong user community to seek help, and see what else can be done with the program.

Netlogo is "a multi-agent programming modelling environment" (According to **the Netlogo website**). It comes with hundreds of models for all areas of science and mathematics preprogrammed. It is a free download and will work on any computer which has Java 5 or later installed.

**Audacity** is an open source audio editor and recorder. One example use in mathematics is to record a bouncing ball, and use the visual data from audacities recording to turn this into a graph of bounce versus time between bounces. You can also use it so students can record 60 second podcasts explaining some aspect of mathematics.

**Calculize** is a free (currently) web app which lets students perform mathematical computations using a reasonably simple programming language.

Wolfram Alpha is a computational engine built on top of the Mathematica architecture. It is amazingly powerful, and turns some homework assignments into a breeze. Recommendation: change your homework assignments, or do away with them all together.

**Desmos**

This is a free online graphing calculator. It emulates a lot of the functionality of a typical graphing calculator but with a much easier to follow user interface and without much of the non-graphing functionality of a graphing calculator. It is easy to create graphs, and then share those graphs with other people. It is also currently in development, so it is still improving over time with new features being added every couple of months.

This **Logo emulator** lets students play with the classic programming environment **Logo**, built for kids by **Seymour Papert** and his colleagues at MIT, all online. It requires Java, but should run on most computers (sorry, no iPads...).

Google Earth is free (but proprietary) software that allows students to explore the world in 3d. One could use it for **GIS** applications, or even to explore the relationship between our 2d mapping system (longitude/latitude) and 3d space.

**Google Sketchup** (another free, but proprietary program) that allows students to create highly complex (or very simple, if they prefer) models. I've used it to have students construct their "ideal" school, and then from this model, they calculate the cost to build their school.

**Screenr** is a free (for up to 5 minute recordings) screen-casting (think record your screen as a video) software. Some possible uses of it are for students to use it to create video tutorials, record their process of solving a problem, or create their own video word problems. Another alternative for screen-casting is **Jing**, but it publishes to a format which is harder to share in the free version.

**Endlos** is an open source fractal generator which I've found runs very fast. It runs in Java, so it should run on any computer capable of supporting Java. The ability to experiment with, and explore fractals is a very interesting thing for students to do, but very tedious to do by hand...

**The Number Race** is an open source program intended to help students who have dyscalculia develop their number sense. It has many levels of difficulty, and runs in Java, which means it should run on a wide variety of computers.

This **free to use online equation editor** could be a nice way for students (and teachers potentially) to construct equation images for use in a website.

**Eigenmath** is an open source program for symbolic manipulation in math. It runs either in Windows or on a Mac. Some examples of what it can do are shown above.

**These 9 free programs** cover a wide range of different types of mathematics. Above is the popular statistics calculation and visualization program included in the package.

**Yacas** (Yet Another Computer Algebra System) is a command line program which allows for the symbolic manipulation and calculation of mathematical expressions. One thing I like about it is that it calculated 600! in a fraction of a second, so it is very fast (an aside, **ever wondered what 6000! factorial is**?)

**Free CAS programs**

**Update: **Just found an open source implementation of LOGO (as described in Seymour Papert's Mindstorms) here: **http://www.softronix.com/logo.html**

Other free programs which I have used either for constructing mathematical diagrams/simulations or with students in some way include:

**The Gimp**, **Programmer's Notepad**, **Flex Builder** (free with an education license), **Open Simulator, VLC PLayer**, **Wolfram Demonstrations **(requires a free browser plugin), and

You might find these programs as useful alternatives to the "free apps" which "help" students memorize formulas & algorithms. For an enormous list of other free programs **see this helpful list**.

What other free programs for mathematics education do you use with or for your students?

Newsletter:

David is a Formative Assessment Specialist for Mathematics at **New Visions for Public Schools** in NYC. He has been teaching since 2002, and has worked in Brooklyn, London, Bangkok, and Vancouver before moving back to the United States. He has his **Masters degree in Educational Technology from UBC**, and is the **co-author of a mathematics textbook**. He has been published in **ISTE's Leading and Learning**, **Educational Technology Solutions**, **The Software Developers Journal**, **The Bangkok Post** and **Edutopia**. He blogs with the **Cooperative Catalyst**, and is the **Assessment group facilitator for Edutopia**. He has also helped organize the first **Edcamp in Canada**, and **TEDxKIDS@BC**.

- Creating a WiiMote interactive white board at my school for under $50.
- 20 reasons not to use a one to one laptop program in your school (and some solutions)
- What is Edcamp?
- For whom are Interactive White boards Interactive?
- Mathematics education blogs
- Forget the future: Here's the textbook I want now
- Eight Videos to Help Teachers Get Started Using Twitter
- Why educators should blog: A helpful flowchart
- There are no aha moments
- Paper use in schools
- 15 things kids can do instead of homework
- Online Geogebra training
- The difference between instrumental and relational understanding
- What is The Effect of Technology Training for Teachers on Student Achievement?
- Why teach math?
- Using Google forms for a "Choose your own adventure" style story
- Ways to use technology in math class
- A Fundamental Flaw in Math Education
- We are homeschooling our son
- A Restitution Guide to Classroom Management
- 25 Myths About Homework
- The Death of the Amateur Mathematician
- Migrating away from Google Reader
- Free tools for math education
- The Role of Immediacy of Feedback in Student Learning

**Subscribe** to my blog

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer

## Comments

## Free tools

Thx! Great compilation! Here is two additions:

http://maxima.sourceforge.net/

Maxima is a system for the manipulation of symbolic and numerical expressions, including differentiation, integration, Taylor series, Laplace transforms, ordinary differential equations, systems of linear equations, polynomials, and sets, lists, vectors, matrices, and tensors. Maxima yields high precision numeric results by using exact fractions, arbitrary precision integers, and variable precision floating point numbers. Maxima can plot functions and data in two and three dimensions.

http://www.blender.org/

Blender is the free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License

## wxmaxima

wxmaixma is related to maxima.

More info at http://andrejv.github.com/wxmaxima/help.html.

## Add new comment