Category: Calculus (SV)

Calculus Tweetwars: 1676-1698

In case it’s difficult to follow the events in “real time” … The Calculus Tweetwars: Act 2 from Maria Andersen   Possibly Related Posts: Teaching in Higher Ed Podcast about ESIL Lens Add Graphs In The World to Courses ESIL: A Learning Lens for the Digital Age Bringing the Real World to Your Math Class Every Day Understand in learning objectives – it’s the forest, not the...

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The Calculus Tweetwars

I wanted to wait until I was SURE that this was going to happen before I mentioned it here.  My Honors Calculus II students have decided to “tweet” The Calculus Wars for modern times. Their assignment was to read “The Calculus Wars” by Jason Socrates Bardi, and then come up with a project (individually or collectively) that requires them to further explore something from the book.  A few years ago, I had one student in this course and he build the Leibniz Calculating Machine the animation software Blender (you can see it here). Anyways, this year, there are three students.  During our discussion of the book, we observed that the scientists involved were like the bloggers and tweeters of their time, sending and publishing an incredible amount of correspondence (some anonymous) via really old-fashioned mail (i.e. SLOW).  Then we wandered into what it would look like if the Calculus Wars happened today and all the characters were in Facebook (friending, unfriending, fan pages, wall posting, etc.).  Ultimately, the students decided to work together to create a modern-day recreation of The Calculus Wars.  Facebook turned out to be too difficult (each follower would have to “friend” each character in order to see the storyline play out). The students have written a rather lengthy script that includes a rather large cast of characters.  In order to get the twitter accounts, they...

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NYT Opinionator Series about Math

For a few months now, the NYT Opinionator Blog has been hosting a series of pieces that do a phenomenally good job of explaining mathematics in layman’s terms. The latest article is about Calculus (with a promise of more to come): Change We Can Believe In is written by Steven Strogatz, an Applied Mathematician at Cornell University. There are several other articles in this series, and if you haven’t been reading them, you really should go check them out.  Assign them.  Discuss them in your classes. From Fish to Infinity (Jan. 31, 2010) Rock Groups (Feb. 7, 2010) The Enemy of My Enemy (Feb. 14, 2010) Division and Its Discontents (Feb. 21, 2010) The Joy of X (Feb. 28, 2010) Finding Your Roots (March 7, 2010) Square Dancing (March 14, 2010) Think Globally (March 21, 2010) Power Tools (March 28, 2010) Take It to the Limit (April 4, 2010) Given the discussions we’ve been having about teaching Series and Series approximations lately on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, I wonder if he’d consider writing an article explaining “Why Series?” to students. Possibly Related Posts: Teaching in Higher Ed Podcast about ESIL Lens Add Graphs In The World to Courses Bringing the Real World to Your Math Class Every Day Taking the Algebra Out of College Algebra Group Exploration in...

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Wolfram Alpha for Inquiry Based Learning in Calculus

Now that all my Calculus II students know about Wolfram Alpha (I showed them), I have to make sure that the assignments I ask them to turn in can’t just be “walphaed” with no thought.  In Calc II, our topics list includes a lot of “techniques-oriented” topics (integration by partial fractions, integration by parts, etc.) and because of the need to keep this course transferable to 4-year schools, I can’t really get around this.  So now I’m in the position of having to reconcile the use of technology that easily evaluates the integrals with making sure that students actually understand the techniques of integration.  There are two ways I’m tackling this: 1. CCC (Concept Compare Contrast) Problems: I’m writing problems that focus on understanding the mathematical process and the compare/contrast nature of math problems.  While Wolfram Alpha can evaluate the integrals for them, the questions I’ve asked require (I hope) a deeper level of understanding about what happens when the techniques are used.  Here’s an example from my recent problem set: There are two pairs of problems below that are exactly the same. You won’t see why until you do the integration, showing all the steps. Find the pairs and then explain how the matched integrals are fundamentally the same. 2. Inquiry Based Learning: One appropriate use for any CAS (computer algebra system) is to use it as a...

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