In this sequence of small whiteboard questions, students are shown the contour graph of a function of two variables and asked to find the derivative. They discover that, without a function to differentiate, they must instead think of the derivative as a ratio of small changes. This requires them to pick two nearby points. Which two?
1. Gradient Sequence | Contours >>
This is a graph of the function \(f(x,y)\):
- Find the derivative of this function.
- Find the derivative of this function at the leftmost of the indicated points.
- Find the partial derivative of this function with respect to \(x\) at the leftmost of the indicated points.
This activity is a set of SWBQ questions about finding a partial derivative from a contour graph. Show the contour graph and then ask, in an appropriate order depending on student responses:
assignment Homework
Shown below is a contour plot of a scalar field, \(\mu(x,y)\). Assume that \(x\)
and \(y\) are measured in meters and that \(\mu\) is measured in kilograms.
Four points are indicated on the plot.
group Small Group Activity
10 min.
group Small Group Activity
30 min.
group Small Group Activity
30 min.
group Small Group Activity
120 min.
Projectile Motion Drag Forces Newton's 2nd Law Separable Differential Equations
Students consider projectile motion of an object that experiences drag force that in linear with the velocity. Students consider the horizontal motion and the vertical motion separately. Students solve Newton's 2nd law as a differential equation.keyboard Computational Activity
120 min.
finite difference hamiltonian quantum mechanics particle in a box eigenfunctions
Students implement a finite-difference approximation for the kinetic energy operator as a matrix, and then usenumpy
to solve for eigenvalues and eigenstates, which they visualize.
assignment Homework
You are on a hike. The altitude nearby is described by the function \(f(x, y)= k x^{2}y\), where \(k=20 \mathrm{\frac{m}{km^3}}\) is a constant, \(x\) and \(y\) are east and north coordinates, respectively, with units of kilometers. You're standing at the spot \((3~\mathrm{km},2~\mathrm{km})\) and there is a cottage located at \((1~\mathrm{km}, 2~\mathrm{km})\). You drop your water bottle and the water spills out.
group Small Group Activity
30 min.
group Small Group Activity
30 min.
Taylor series power series approximation
This activity starts with a brief lecture introduction to power series and a short derivation of the formula for calculating the coefficients of a power series for a particular function:
\[c_n={1\over n!}\, f^{(n)}(z_0)\]
After a brief lecture deriving the formula for the coefficients of a power series, students compute the power series coefficients for a \(\sin\theta\) (around both the origin and \(\frac{\pi}{6}\)). The meaning of these coefficients and the convergence behavior for each approximation is discussed in the whole-class wrap-up.
group Small Group Activity
30 min.
Mechanics Gravitational Force Gravitational Potential Energy Derivatives Introductory Physics
Students examine a plastic "surface" graph of the gravitational potential energy of a Earth-satellite system to make connections between gravitational force and gravitational potential energy.