Education Technology

Use of CAS in teaching Differential Calculus by First Principle

Activity Overview

This Computer Algebra System (CAS) activity encourages students to investigate the use of CAS to solve functions using derivatives and appropriate formulas.

Before the Activity

  • See the attached PDF file for detailed instructions for this activity
  • Print pages 1 - 3 from the attached PDF file for the class
  • During the Activity

    Distribute the page to the class.

    Follow the Activity procedures:

  • Define a function and graph it
  • Calculate the gradient between two points on the curve
  • Animate the picture on the screen to demonstrate the secant approaching the tangent at a point on the curve
  • Use CAS to find the gradient of the tangent to the function's curve
  • Repeat steps for different functions
  • Examine the change in calculations if the gradient is evaluated at a given point
  • Understand that CAS eliminates the occurrence of incorrect evaluation and simplification of expressions
  • After the Activity

    Students answer questions on the Activity sheet.

    Review student results:

  • As a class, discuss questions that appeared to be more challenging
  • Re-teach concepts as necessary