Following the success of the ‘Calculus in Primary’ project, ‘Calculus for Kids’ extends and expands the ideas.
‘Calculus in Primary’ was conducted with final year primary school and first year secondary school students aged between 10-12 years old in four Australian states. It trained classroom teachers to provide instruction in the use of MAPLE mathematics software. They taught their students in 1:1 laptop classrooms (and one computer laboratory) to use MAPLE to solve real-world problems using integral calculus. After eleven lessons, the students took a version of the first year engineering degree calculus examination, where they gained an average Distinction grade.
The project was significant because it showed very young students could achieve at much higher levels when using computer technology. In many ways it parallels the success of students with disabilities using assistive technology. The resulting discussion can examine the ethics of withholding such support in mainstream classrooms and what we mean by ‘knowing calculus’. Both questions are reviewed in this presentation.
Calculus in Kids was designed to extend the project to include lessons in which similarly-aged students devise mathematical models to describe real-world activities. With funding from the Australian Research Council (linkage project LP130101088) the project has been extended to more states and schools over a longer term of engagement.
We describe the changes to the project, the scope of the research in the new schools and the initial findings from our work.