Following up our conversation about Steven Strogatz’s Infinite Powers with some basic calculus ideas

Yesterday I had my younger son (in 7th grade) read chapter 1 in Steven Strogatz’s new book Infinite Powers and we had a fun time talking about what he learned:

Using Steven Strogatz’s Infinite Powers with a 7th grader

Today I wanted to show him a hand waving overview of two of the more well-known ideas from calculus – finding tangent lines and finding areas under a curve.

I started with the tangent line problem:

He was struggling to remember some of the basic ideas about lines, so I broke the talk about tangent lines into two pieces to let him take his time remembering how to describe lines. Here’s the second part of the discussion:

With the tangent line discussion finished, we moved on to finding the area under a curve. To keep things simple, I stuck with the same function:

One thought on “Following up our conversation about Steven Strogatz’s Infinite Powers with some basic calculus ideas

  1. hi
    perhaps you could discuss w him the tangent to a cycloid or the under a cycloid. there are plenty of ways of doing these, generally with nice geometric ideas, as the guys in the 16 hundreeds did it.

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