Log #8: Interlude - Community Feedback

A project log for Hacker Calculus

Isaac Newton was a hacker. Let's take calculus back to its roots and make it accessible to everyone.

Joan HorvathJoan Horvath 08/15/2017 at 21:103 Comments

As we have gone along we have tried to get feedback from various constituencies: people who never took calculus but are curious, people who teach it, people who teach less-advanced math but are interested in adding in these concepts earlier, and so on.

The first advice we got from people focused on the teaching aspect was that it would be too hard to support electronics, 3D printing, and other hands-on activities all in the service of a calculus class. The suggestion was to focus on just one thing and to be sure that the ideas made sense even if someone were just reading about the objects and seeing them in photographs. Otherwise we need to explain each technology used before getting into the calculus part, which admittedly can be a distraction. Our original approach, though (of making things a variety of ways) may still be a valid way to go for schools with an extensive makerspace, and we haven’t completely given up on that.

We were grateful that Yue-Ting Siu, Assistant Professor in the Graduate College of Education at San Francisco State, took a look at some of our early models. Dr. Siu is interested in how best to teach the visually impaired. Obviously 3D prints work best for this constituency (compared to building electronics), and her suggestion was to thing about how to add gridlines and other orienting material to these plots. We are thinking about the best ways to do that within the resolution and surface finish limitations of a 3D printer, and without cluttering the models or making them confusing.

Dr. Siu also suggested that we think about neurodiversity generally and consider how our approach might help other learners who are not served well by traditional education, beyond the visually impaired. As we note in the summary in the "Details" section, we are very interested in exploring this area further with others who have specific expertise.


Greg Stephens wrote 08/15/2017 at 23:36 point

"might help other learners who are not served well by traditional education"  

SOO.... everyone?!!!  I think of mathematics as traditional educations finest failure.  We learn how to "plug-and-play" equations.. but don't take the time to understand what the equation really means.

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Joan Horvath wrote 08/15/2017 at 23:40 point

Exactly. We want to start with the meaning, and let the algebra come later. Our tag line out on the main page for this project (link at the top of the log) is to imagine what Isaac Newton would have done with a 3D printer. ;-)

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Greg Stephens wrote 08/16/2017 at 00:03 point

That's a fun premise.  Good luck!  I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with. :)!

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