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1 May 2018 The Innovative Use of Mathematica to Teach Biodiversity
Elizabeth C. Davis-Berg, Daniel R. Jordan
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We investigated using Mathematica to create an interactive exercise that allows students to explore biological concepts. Exporting these active learning experiences to the Wolfram Computable Document Format (CDF) lets students enter data and modify parameters with only a browser plug-in and without needing to know how to use Mathematica. This exercise enhances student understanding by allowing them to focus on the biological concepts and visualize the data and calculations without the tedium of hand computation. In this article, we will highlight an interactive version of a biodiversity laboratory that explores Simpson's Diversity Index. Students are walked through sample calculations with a small data set, and then analyze a larger data set, which is presented as a set of interactive graphs and automatic calculations so that they can explore the data to answer questions. For our non-major audience, this laboratory leads to a more sophisticated discussion without getting stuck on the calculations. We will present the exercise and assessment results.

© 2018 National Association of Biology Teachers. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press's Reprints and Permissions web page,
Elizabeth C. Davis-Berg and Daniel R. Jordan "The Innovative Use of Mathematica to Teach Biodiversity," The American Biology Teacher 80(5), 372-378, (1 May 2018).
Published: 1 May 2018

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