I’m homework tutor/advisor for a family member. She’s 15, in 10th grade, and taking pre-calculus. I was thinking about giving her a student copy of Mathematica for Christmas, but held off when I realized it might cause her algebra skills to wither.

I am thinking it might be suitable to wait to give her a copy until either she’s: taken the SAT (in a year or two); or, admitted to college. I figure that at that point, her skills will have been sufficient that no harm would be done. Also, as she progresses in college, she won’t be getting tested on her algebra skills as much as her higher math skills. So using Mathematica to work through large algebra problems will be a net gain for her (as it was for me in grad school).

Mods, I’m assuming there’s a consensus on this subject, so I put it in GQ. If I’m wrong, feel free to move as you see fit.