The site contains a large collection of Java applets addressing different pre-calculus and calculus topics.
Type of Material:
This collection is an excellent supplement to any calculus or pre-calculus textbook. It could easily be used in a wide range of science and engineering classes. These applets could be used by the student or by the professor for classroom demonstrations.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
To provide a simple demonstration and give visual reinforcements for the different calculus and pre-calculus topics.
Target Student Population:
Calculus and pre-calculus students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Basic skills in above-mentioned subjects.
This is an excellent and very useful collection. While every single applet is very focused and specialized, the entire collection is well organized and encompasses a wide variety of topics. Topics include: lines, parabolas, exponential functions, limits, continuity, tangent lines, mean value theorem, Newton's method, Riemann sums, and Taylor polynomials as well as many others. The applets are excellent, fast implementations that handle almost all continuous situations (and some discontinuous ones) very well. The user has good control over the appearance of the generated graphs (domain, range, variable names, etc.). All the applets have both a graphical and a numerical component. Simple interfaces allow the user to adjust the parameters and immediately review the results of these changes. All applets contain an Example hyperlink that allows the user to load preset examples into the applets. The interfaces are intuitive, plots appear instantly, and the applets run smoothly. Every module has a Notes section discussing the specific issues for a given applet. Explanations are very well written and are carefully presented in a friendly manner.
Some of the applets could benefit from an error message or a warning message appearing for situations related to handling discontinuities, wrong derivative calculations, etc.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This collection is an excellent supplement to any calculus or pre-calculus textbook. It could easily be used in a wide range of science and engineering classes. The modules are easy to use and have a standard simple syntax, so the software issues do not get in the way of the mathematics. Students could quickly and efficiently explore a wide range of situations. These applets could be used by the student or by the professor for classroom demonstrations. Most of the applets require the user to input needed derivatives and anti-derivatives as expressions rather than having the applet do that work. This gives the student practice their differentiation and integration skills while seeing the effects graphically. Most of the applets are cross-linked. For example,
if a student has difficulty calculating a derivative one can click on the appropriate link to reach the Derivative Calculator applet that can be used to check or find the answer.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
All the applets in the collection feature a unified appearance and user interface, serving to reduce confusion. The controls are easy to use and clearly labeled. Every applet has an excellent How to Use section written in a friendly manner. Available options give the user good control over the appearance of the graphical output of the modules. The syntax is standard and familiar to any user with a graphing calculator. The list of available functions and symbols is accessible from any applet as a link to the Expression in Mathlets Page.
Separate applets could benefit from navigation buttons taking a user back to the main page when necessary.
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