Humor+Math=?…

Each year, those stalwart few who have weathered the storm of year-long AP Calculus end the year with a special project. A project quite unlike all other assignments which they have completed in the course of their year. I am, of course, referring to the Calculus video project.

The Calculus video project is a creative way to apply calculus to real-life situations. Each class divides into groups of three and each group is tasked with the following: to create a 10-20 minute video which presents and solves four Calculus problems

Each video must have a theme. Students can parody movies, music videos, fairy tales, children’s stories…pretty much anything which allows them to incorporate calculus problems in an amusing fashion.

The project pushes students to use creativity as well as sheer intellect when shooting their videos. Approaching real-life problems with calculus is an interesting way to help students view the curriculum in an entirely different light.

“My group’s video was titled ‘Jack-asymptote,’” recalled Luke Taylor, senior, of his video from last year.

“We tried to mess with my friend Brian [Waldron] as much as possible– like throwing him in a box and trying to drown him, and making him eat spicy oatmeal, and pushing him down a hill, blindfolded, in a wagon. Stuff like that–and we would calculate the fluid force on the outside of the sinking box, the velocity he was going down the hill, or the amount of time it would take for the temperature in his mouth to decrease.”

The project guidelines encourage students to both cover a wide range of topics with their problems, and to incorporate as much humor as possible into their videos.

Students have several weeks with which to film and edit together their videos. Once turned in, videos are shared amongst the calculus classes and viewed over the course of several days.

“I would say the hardest part was finding a way to– to use a calculus term– ‘integrate’ calculus terms into what we were doing,” reflected Taylor. “And, the most fun part, I have to say, was filming a bunch of crazy junk with my friends.”

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