For me, the most challenging project to put together is the first one of the semester. At this point, the students are unfamiliar with the entire idea of a project. They do not understand the technology that will be required, the sustained effort, or the technical memo they will complete to demonstrate their understanding of the content.
In addition to teaching all of these topics, there needs to be some mathematical content. My Survey of Calculus class typically begins with a review of nonlinear functions. The students in the class have completed College Algebra and typically have covered the typical subjects of polynomial, rational, exponential and logarithm functions. However, most of them have never had to use these functions in any realistic context. They may have produced some elementary regression models, but nothing that really requires any deep understanding of the nature of these functions.
The learning objectives for the first project are broad:
- Review elementary nonlinear functions.
- Apply nonlinear functions in a realistic setting.
- Apply limits in a realistic setting.
- Learn how to use the TI calculator and Excel.
- Graph a function
- Graph a scatter plot of data
- Produce a regression model for data
- Format professional looking graphs.
- Learn how to document a solution strategy.
This may seem like a lot, but I am going to use this project for the first 4 to 5 weeks of class.