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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Professor creates website with free math applications

By Anderson Colemon/tr news editor

TR math instructor Vinh Nguyen created simulation-math.com for students who needed access to a graphing calculator or other statistical tools. Nguyen learned web programming and website development to create the site.  Photo by Taurence Williams/The Collegian
TR math instructor Vinh Nguyen created simulation-math.com for students who needed access to a graphing calculator or other statistical tools. Nguyen learned web programming and website development to create the site. Photo by Taurence Williams/The Collegian

A TR math professor teaches students that the best way to interact is through his website.

Vinh Nguyen offers students an online graphing calculator and statistical computational tools on his website, simulation-math.com.

Nguyen’s idea started as a means to keep students from spending money on textbooks.

“Due to the high cost of textbooks and graphing calculators, it has become difficult to require students to purchase graphing calculators,” Nguyen said.

“Many students simply cannot afford to buy both a textbook for around $100 and a graphic calculator for around $100 for a college-level math class. For a great majority of students, College Algebra or Elementary Statistics is the last math course that they have to take.”

But Nguyen said building simulation-math.com came with some challenges, and learning how to program the features took several months.

“Designing a graphing calculator and computational tools require advanced skills and knowledge in web programming,” he said. “Up until 18 months ago, my computer programming skills were limited to Visual Basic Applications. So I had to learn how to do web programming and website development.” 

TR students Cara Jones and Chase O’Heren said simulation-math.com helps them.

“It’s confusing at first to figure out, but once you use it for a while, it gets easier to understand,” Jones said.

The challenging step for O’Heren was learning the site.

“Once you navigate through the website and use various tools, it gets really easy,” O’Heren said. “It does a lot more than a graphing calculator does.”

Nguyen said the website is based on the material usually found in a TI-84 graphing calculator.

“In addition to the TI-84 features, I also included Google Maps features like zooming and dragging,” he said.

Nguyen said he wants his website to better benefit students in college math.

“Computational tools at simulation-math.com are designed to be instructional and to help students gain a better understanding of math concepts,” he said. “Included in these computational tools are detailed explanations that are designed to help students when they are working math problems on their own. For example, an algebra-related tool like the quadratic formula includes a step-by-step detailed explanation on how the solutions are formed.”

Currently, the website’s computational tools are mainly for College Algebra and Elementary Statistics.

“Tools for statistics are designed for beginning statistics students,” Nguyen said. “They are simpler to use than commercial statistical software.”

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