AP Calculus Students Use iPhones and iPods As Tools to Study Related Rates of Change

Posted on April 12, 2013, in Academics, Lancer Life

General McLane’s AP Calculus students applied calculus to Magic Water Marbles, the hot item in the craft and floral sectors. This tiny polymer beads measure about 3mm in diameter and, when soaked for up to 24 hours, the beads absorb water and triple in size. The beads replace water in vases and flower arrangements to make a very decorative — and colorful — addition.

The students had the challenge of figuring out how fast the marbles are growing and how fast the volume and surface area are increasing. Students tackled the question by using calculus concepts of derivatives and related rates of change. In order to measure these tiny objects, the students used the free app Caliper from the App Store on their iPhones and iPods. The app works exactly like a real caliper. This technology made possible an exploration that would not have been examined in the past.

Neat stuff!