As the sun sets on the summer holidays, most kids are now facing up to the prospect of life back in the caged walls of school or college. If you’re going back to school then you may as well do it properly this year – and that means getting prepared. This week I’ll be picking out a selection of software applications for your PC that can help you shoot to the top of the class. Every day I’ll concentrate on a different subject from the curriculum and give you the lowdown on the best programs for primary, secondary and college students. We’ll kick the week off with maths – a subject that can be oh-so dreary and mind-wrecking for so many people. It needn’t be like that though.
Primary – Learning mathematics from an early age is a great idea if you want to ensure you get a good deal on your pocket money. Math Games Level 1 is a good place to start. The free program teaches addition and multiplication, using the numbers 1 to 12. A friendly robot helps you calculate the values when you click the ‘Ask Me’ button. Kids Abacus is another neat learning aid for juniors, designed to help you count from 1 to 100. It also includes a speech synthesizer for tips on how to pronounce each number. However, probably the most fun maths game for little ones is Maths Ninja, in which a lethal killer teaches you sums.
Secondary: Once you’ve got the counting and basic maths nailed, it’s time to move on to something a little more advanced. If you’re at high school then MathProf should definitely be high on your list of number-crunching apps to download. Covering fields such as analysis, geometry, algebra and stochastics, the app displays mathematical correlations in a very simple-to-understand way, through the use of 3D graphics. Derive is an equally useful piece of software, giving you quick access to powerful tools for doing symbolic and numeric maths. Finally, no high school student should be without graph paper. Make sure you have a constant stock, by installing Graph Paper Printer on your computer.
College: Personally, I think if you choose to do mathematics rather than be forced to you need professional help rather than just a piece of software. Anyway, if you are learning the subject at the top end of the scale then you may well be interested in Octave. This is a high-level language developed by the open source community which functions simply by providing a command line interface for solving linear and nonlinear numeric problems. R-project is a similarly advanced resource, which supports a wide variety of statistical analysing – namely linear and nonlinear modelling, classical statistical tests, time-series analysis, classification, clustering methods and graphical techniques.
OK, I’m off to do my homework on more educational software and I’ll be back tomorrow to reveal all. Don’t be late Jenkins.