Education Technology

Use of CAS in teaching Differential Calculus by First Principle

Published on 06/09/2008

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