[Please also see a related post that I wrote about this on December 28, 2011.]
Until recently, an autistic eighth grader I support had never handed in a math assignment that he had completed for himself. It had always been necessary for an educational assistant to write out his math work for him. Everything changed for this young man when we introduced him to ‘Equation Editor’. Within a very short time, this learner was not only completing assigned math work for himself, he was eager to do so!
Equation Editor has been part of MS Word for a long time. I believe it has been present in every version since Word 97. Equation Editor enables the user to enter mathematical expressions right in the word processor, with all the required notation and symbols. I think this is huge! It really resonates on a personal level. As a high school math student, I would erase my work until there were holes in my paper without ever making it neat enough to satisfy my teachers.
Unfortunately, the presence of Equation Editor has never been obvious. As a result it seems to have remained relatively unknown. I have assembled resources for installing icons on Word toolbars to make Equation Editor available in Word 2003 and Word 2007.
A few days ago, I had my first look at MS Word 2010. One of the first things I looked for was Equation Editor, and I was disappointed. Mathematical symbols are still available, but my initial exploration suggests they are not nearly as convenient to access as they had been in Word 2007. (In my opinion, Equation Editor had also been far more robust in Word 2003 than in Word 2007!)
The long introduction above brings us at last to Microsoft Mathematics Add-in for Word and OneNote. This is an add-in that installs directly into Word 2007 or 2010. It adds a Math tab, and it more than makes up for any deficiencies of Equation Editor in Word 2007. The math ribbon that is added is shown immediately above.
Perhaps the most helpful additional feature of the new Math add-in is that it will plot 2-D graphs in Cartesian and polar coordinates, as well as 3-D graphs in Cartesian, cylindrical, and spherical coordinates!