Technology for the Calculus sequence

The Grand Valley State University Mathematics Department highly values the insightful use of technology to solve meaningful problems and deepen understanding of key ideas in the introductory Calculus sequence [MTH 201 (Calculus 1), MTH 202 (Calculus 2), and MTH 203 (Calculus 3)]. Recommended hardware and software for student use in the Calculus sequence follows.

Technology for Calculus 1 and 2

Hardware

GVSU does not require a graphing calculator for Calculus, nor do we specifically recommend any particular brand of calculator. Students may own and use any calculator they wish, as long as it can compute with logarithmic, trigonometric, and exponential functions.

GVSU students are encouraged to own and use mobile computing devices that can (1) run mathematical apps, (2) display PDF documents, and (3) connect to the internet via a web browser. Such devices include:

  • Laptop computers that run an up-to-date version of a modern operating system such as Mac OS X, Linux, or Windows.
  • Tablet devices such as the iPad, iPad mini, Android tablets, and e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle Fire or Barnes & Noble Nook.
  • Smartphones that run an up-to-date version of a modern mobile OS such as iOS or Android, and have internet connectivity through a web browser such as Safari or Chrome.
  • Other handheld internet-capable devices such as the iPod Touch.

If you own a mobile device but are not sure if it meets the three requirements above, please contact Prof. Robert Talbert, the department's Instructional Resources Coordinator. Also, please verify with your professor that the use of a mobile device is allowed in class.

Software

The first-year calculus sequence MTH 201-202 uses a combination of the following software tools:

  • Geogebra, a free open-source geometry and algebra modeling program. This is a free download for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X; click here and select your operating system to download and install. Do NOT install the "Java Webstart" version, as this is being phased out; and do not install the "Google Chrome extension" unless you have already installed Geogebra on your hard drive. Also, note that Geogebra does not currently operate on tablet devices.
  • Wolfram|Alpha, a computational knowledge website.
  • A standard spreadsheet such as Excel, but free alternatives such as Google Spreadsheets and OpenOffice Calc are acceptable as well.

Other recommended apps for MTH 201-202 include:

  • Desmos graphing calculator (free; website)
  • The Wolfram|Alpha app for tablets and smartphones ($2.99 for iOS or Android)
  • Dropbox cloud file storage (free; website and iOS/Android app)

Technology for Calculus 3

GVSU maintains a site license for the scientific computing platform Mathematica that allows current GVSU students to download and install the software on their systems at no cost. Some sections of MTH 203 use Mathematica in lab sessions. Students can download the software at http://www.gvsu.edu/clas/labresource/mathematica-7.htm