Quadratic Formula or Not?

There was a very interesting post in the AP Calc TEACHERS – AB/BC Facebook page last week. It discussed an apparently new method for solving quadratic equation without guess-and-check factoring, completing the square, or the quadratic formula. It was discovered by Dr. Po-Shen Loh of Carnegie Mellon University. The full article is here. The article…

Spiral Slide Rule

As I wrote last week, I found an old spiral slide rule last summer. It is about the size of a rolling pin and in fact has a handle like a rolling pin’s at the bottom. The device consists of a short wide cylinder that slides around, and up or down on a longer thin…

Slide Rules

Last summer I bought myself a new calculator. Well, it’s actually an old calculator manufactured in 1914 (if I’m reading the correct information engraved on it). It is called a Fuller Spiral Slide Rule. Before looking at that, I’ll try to explain how the more standard (flat) slide rule works. Next week, I show you…

A Lesson on Sequences

This blog post describes a lesson that investigates some ideas about sequences that are not stressed in the AP Calculus curriculum. The lesson could be an introduction to sequences. I think the lesson would work in an Algebra I course and is certainly suitable for a pre-calculus course. The investigation is of irrational numbers and…

AP Calculus Prerequisites

College Board Prerequisites Whenever I led a calculus workshop or APSI, I always spent a little time discussing the prerequisites for AP Calculus. Unfortunately, in some schools AP Calculus is a course for only the talented and little time is spent aligning the mathematics program and courses from 7th grade on so that more students…

Polar Equations

Ideally, as with parametric and vector functions, polar curves should be introduced and covered thoroughly in a pre-calculus course. Questions on the BC exams have been concerned with calculus ideas related to polar curves. Students have not been asked to know the names of the various curves (rose, curves, limaçons, etc.). The graphs are usually…

Getting Ready

Today we continue to look at some previous posts that I hope will help you and your students throughout the year. We begin with some posts on graphing calculator use and then a few general things in three posts on beginning the year, followed by some mathematics I hope students know before they start studying…