The Lafayette College Calculus Laboratories -- First Semester
These laboratory materials represent the first semester in a three
semester scientific and engineering calculus sequence developed at
Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. The course meets three
times per week in a conventional classroom setting and a fourth
time in a Mathematica lab. The course differs from other Computer
Algebra System-based Calculus sequences in several ways. First,
the CAS is not in daily use by the students, they still must do
most of their computations and algebra by hand.The CAS is included
in a weekly laboratory only. This more conservative approach
(compared with Calculus & Mathematica, for instance) allows our
laboratory with only 28 machines to serve a population of 250-300
calculus students a semester, with availability for occasional use
by students in upper level courses as well.The laboratory is
typically used to introduce students heuristically to a new topic
before they encounter it in lecture or homework. We attempt to
use the CAS to expose students to the concepts and techniques of
calculus in (the now platitudinous) three ways: graphically,
numerically, and symbolically. Another goal of some labs is to
introduce our students to applications that were previously too
complex for beginning calculus students computational skills. Our
sizable contingent of engineers are effectively motivated by this
exposure, and increasingly are returning to Mathematica to solve
their computational problems in courses beyond the calculus sequence.
These labs are not in final form, in fact they have been used in
their current Mathematica notebook format only once in the classroom.
I would be happy to hear from anyone using or even playing with
these labs who might have suggestions on how to improve them.
Finally, it should be pointed out that, although I am the final
author of all these labs, they are very much the product of a joint
effort on the part of the entire math department faculty here at
Lafayette. In particular, Cliff Reiter, Tom Hill, and Livie Carducci
have either inspired, coauthored, or written an antecedent to
virtually every lab in this sequence. You may reach us at
Rob Root
Department of Mathematics
Lafayette College
Easton, PA 18042
(610) 250-5280
email: robroot@lafvax.lafayette.edu