These are the notes of a new Maple user attempting to come up to speed in, what is for me, a new algebraic manipulation tool. I am looking at the tool not so much as an engine for solving problems as much as I am interested in using it as a tool for teaching advanced physics concepts to students in the secondary school arena. Right now I only seek to use it as an aid to building better presentations for the students as well as supplying a dynamic environment for solving problems for students in my class.
Five years ago I decided to stop acting like a teacher and sought certification as a teacher. I had done s stint as a staff developer for some time but was convinced to "join the ranks" by one of my clients/students. In a former life I was a research staff member at a major research center and had worked as software engineer at another for quite a few years. I had used Mathematica, MathCAD, as well as numerous other mathematical packages over the years. (For some reason I never had the opportunity to use MATLab). In any event I continued to use Mathematica as a tool for solving puzzles of one kind or another and thought I might start using it to introduce some advanced concepts to my class.
Mathemetica, as it turned out wasn't well disposed for displaying problems to my class because I couldn't get it to display the solutions to problems in a way the students were used to seeing. I spent too much time trying to get the students to ignore the arcane notation in favor of the results. Quickly setting up graphs was also a problem so I began to look for alternative programs. I had heard of Maple and had used tools that drew upon the Maple engine but never actually gave it a try. Maple 10, from the sample movies on the Maple site, looked promising. Maple had a special pricing and a more reasonable licencing policy than Mathematica so I decided to give it a try. I was fairly adept at Mathematica, (as well as years of experience with many programming languages) "it shouldn't take me too long to learn the ins and outs of Maple", I thought.