Calculus Can Be Fun
Laurie Corrin
By Laurie Corrin
High School Math/Computer Science Teacher
October 22, 2018
Believe it or not, learning calculus can be fun! In Calculus I the girls recently wrote functions to describe their initials and then drew the slopes of those functions. With that, we plunged into our study of derivatives. By the end of the year students will master optimization, integrals, solids of revolution, and series. Our next project involves pancakes and related rates. It’s all about making a connection to the real world – to practical, everyday items or instances that we can all relate to. Calculus, the study of change, is important for economists and psychologists as well as scientists and engineers.
As a former software engineer, I love sharing computing as well as mathematics with my students. In Computer Science I, we are working on a nursery rhyme project. Each student chose a nursery rhyme to animate in Snap! – a block-based language developed at Berkeley and based on MIT’s Scratch. For those not in the know, MIT Scratch is a free programming language and online community where users can create their own interactive stories, games, and animations. Studies show that beginning programmers are highly successful with block-based languages. The nursery rhymes project showcases the girls’ newly acquired animation and message passing skills. They will continue to create computer games as their computer science knowledge grows.
Technology skills are important for our future citizens and learning computer science helps them understand the world around them and visualize their career possibilities. The Forest Ridge Computer Science II class is a rigorous course in Java programming. Students collaborate in small groups, tackling new concepts with increasingly challenging projects. Our first big project is a text-based fraction calculator. Beyond that, our most advanced students continue to use Java as they study data structures in a project-based learning course. These students may be our next generation of engineers.
Outside of class, we’re planning new course offerings in technology and entrepreneurship. I can’t wait to see the results of the hard work from this talented group of girls at the end of the year!
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