I had this idea, and I wanted to throw it down before I lost it. It may be nothing, or it may be something awesome.
I have been mulling over if I should do a project in calculus in the fourth quarter. And I had a thought. I have been really trying to focus on the fundamental underlying ideas in calculus, and shooing away the algebraic gobblygunk. Why? Because my kids aren’t taking AP Calculus. Most won’t be taking math in college. So I want my kids to leave calculus saying: “Yes, I understood the ideas. Calculus is about ideas.”
I wonder if a good final project, which would force them to grapple with the Big Ideas, might be having students create a collective time capsule, which will be stored in some deep underground facility, and will be the only remnants of “Calculus” that may exist after some horribly apocalyptic disaster.
I’m not sure what would go in the capsule, but I like the idea that all students would be asked to contribute a few items. Maybe we’d break the course into chunks, and each student would be responsible for writing an accessible explanation of each chunk — and we bind these together into a book? And each student would create set of drawings/graphs/photograph/images that (for them) represent the Big Ideas of Calculus, and they have to explain each one of them… What’s the idea, and why is it so important?
In addition to these required items, students could have their choice of what else to contribute… Things like:
1) A video of the student explaining the weirdnesses/paradoxes/strange ideas of (or relating to) calculus
2) A short research paper on the history of calculus
3) A letter to the future explaining why calculus is an important swath of knowledge that shouldn’t be forgotten (including uses / applications of calculus)
4) A challenging calculus problem, and it’s solution
5) A “concept map” for calculus
6) Audio recordings of students reading quotations about calculus that resonated with them, and then students explaining why it resonted with them.
7) Designing a cover to the collective calculus book we bound together, and on the back cover, an explanation of how the cover exemplifies the course
Or other things?
I don’t know. It felt like a cool idea when it jumped in my head a few minutes ago, but now that I’m writing it, I can’t quite picture it … yet. Any ideas of how to take this idea and turn it into something good? Throw it in the comments!