Hybrid Colloquium: Making Calculus Accessible

Hybrid Colloquium: Making Calculus Accessible

Event Date

Thursday, November 17th, 2022 – 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Joan Horvath and Rich Cameron, co-founders Nonscriptum LLC


Scientific Program Coordinator, Charity Pitcher-Cooper


When Isaac Newton developed calculus in the 1600s, he was trying to tie together math and physics in an intuitive, geometrical way. But over time math and physics teaching became heavily weighted toward algebra, and less toward geometrical problem-solving. However, many practicing mathematicians and physicists will get their intuition geometrically first and do the algebra later.

Joan Horvath and Rich Cameron's new book, Make: Calculus, imagines how Newton might have used 3D printed models, LEGO bricks, programming, craft materials, and a dash of electronics to teach calculus concepts intuitively with hands-on models. The book uses as little reliance on algebra as possible while still retaining enough to allow comparison with a traditional curriculum.

The 3D printable models are written in OpenSCAD, the text-based, open-source CAD program. The models are in an open source repository and are designed to be edited, explored, and customized by teachers and learners. Joan and Rich will also address how they think about the tactile storytelling of their models. They hope their work will make calculus more accessible, in the broadest sense of the word, to enable more people to start on the road to STEM careers.

Make: Calculus is available in a softcover print version, in a PDF/epub3 bundle in which the epub3 with MathML equations has been optimized for screenreaders (Thorium epub3 reader recommended), and in Kindle format. Joan and Rich will talk about some of the technology gaps they encountered trying to keep a book with calculus equations accessible.

Joan Horvath and Rich Cameron are the co-founders of Pasadena-based Nonscriptum LLC, which provides 3D printing and maker tech consulting and training. Their eight previous books include Make: Geometry, which developed a similar repository of models for middle and high-school math in collaboration with the SKI "3Ps" project. They have also authored popular LinkedIn Learning courses on additive manufacturing, and run several related (currently virtual) Meetup groups.

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