Interactive Graphs to Visualize Concepts and Relationships

by Mike Meyer, Director of the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

A picture may be worth 1,000 words. But, when it comes to teaching, an interactive graph may be worth 1,000 pictures.

This week’s teaching resource is the Wolfram Demonstrations Project .

Take a look at just a few categories, and I’m guessing you’ll find something that will be useful during the term.

Unless you already have Mathematica installed on your machine, you will be prompted to download and install a free “Computable Document Format” player as soon as you try to use an interactive. Once you do, you’ll have access to a library of almost 10,000 from virtually all STEM fields as well as business, social sciences, graphic design and even music.

These interactive graphs allow you to change one or more parameters and see immediately how other things change. (For instance, one interactive allows you to change the system temperature and watch the blackbody spectrum change.) I find using simulations like these allow both my students and me to powerfully visualize concepts and relationships between quantities.

If you’d like to talk more about how interactives might be used with students, or if you have favorite teaching resources of your own, stop by or contact theWilliam G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in the Van Pelt and Opie Library, room 219.