MCS 121 - Calculus I
Course Description/Online Syllabus
Calculus in many ways is the culmination of 17th century European
mathematics. Problems in integral calculus (finding complicated
areas) and differential calculus (finding instantaneous rates of
change and tangents) date back to antiquity, but the genius of Newton
and Leibniz was connecting differential and integral calculus with
``The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus''.
The calculus is the greatest aid we have to the application of physical
truth in the broadest sense of the word.
- W. F. Osgood
Announcements, course information and assignments will be posted on
the course web page. The URL for this course is http://www.gac.edu/~mcs121/2005F/
- To reinforce prior understanding of functions.
- To understand what a derivative is, how to find derivatives
(limits, formulas), and how derivatives can be used.
- To understand what definite integrals are (areas, accumulation of
change, Riemann sums) and how to find them.
- To develop critical thinking and problem solving skills.
- To have fun doing mathematics.
Two years of high school mathematics beyond plane geometry,
including trigonometry, or MCS 120.
Calculus by Hughes-Hallett, Gleason, McCallum et. al. (John Wiley &
Sons, New York, Fourth Edition, 2005).
This text is written specifically to aid you in understanding the concepts
of calculus. Our questions and problems will require you to invoke
your understanding rather than to mimic template problems worked in the
text, so you
this text, both before and after each class.
about how to read mathematics.)
You should have a graphing calculator available for use in class and
on exams. If you are buying a new one, the department recommends
the TI-83 or TI-86. You may use other calculators (especially other TIs,
Casios, HP or Sharp) as long as you are able to enter a simple program
into your calculator and you are comfortable with basic graphing features.
Calculators with symbolic algebra capability (e.g. TI-89 or TI-92) will
be allowed during exams. A couple of calculators are on reserve
in the library.
We will have two in class skills tests, two exams during the semester
and a cumulative final exam. The exams during the semester
will be given in the evening. The tests and exams are tentatively
The final exam is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, December 17, 3:30 -
September 22 (in class)
October 11 (evening)
November 1 (in class)
November 17 (evening).
Please reserve these dates on your calendars. Make-ups will only be
given for verifiable emergencies. In particular, make-ups will
never be given to accommodate travel plans.
Determination of course grade:
We will provide you with a number grade on each assignment and on each
test, so that you may keep track of your performance. Your instructor
will provide you with the details of his/her grading policy.
The academic honesty policy and honor code can be found
I call your attention to the following excerpt:
``In all academic exercises, examinations, papers, and reports, students
shall submit their own work. Footnotes or some other acceptable form of
citation must accompany any use of another's words or ideas.''
On each examination students will be required to sign the following
On my honor, I pledge that I have not given, received, or tolerated
others' use of unauthorized aid in completing this work.
Please contact your instructor during the first week of class if you have specific physical, psychiatric, or learning disabilities and require accommodations. All discussions will remain confidential. You can provide documentation of your disability to the Advising Center (204 Johnson Student Union) or call Laurie Bickett (x7027).
We learn by thinking and doing, not by watching and listening.
Learning is an active process: it is something we must do, not have
done to us. Class time will be a mixture of lectures, discussions,
problem solving and presentation of solutions. It is essential that
you come to class prepared to do the day's work. In particular, you
should read the text and attempt homework
to class. Class meetings are not intended to be a complete encapsulation
of the course material. You will be responsible for learning some
of the material on your own.
``A good lecture is usually systematic, complete, precise --
and dull; it
Preparation problems are meant to help you prepare for classes. Note
that preparation problems for a section are assigned at the same time as
the reading for that section. This means that you are being asked
read and digest a section and attempt problems
we discuss the material in class. This is intentional. These problems
will often serve as the starting point for class discussions.
is a bad teaching instrument.''
-- Paul Halmos
``The best way to learn anything is to discover it by yourself... .
What you have been obliged to discover by yourself leaves a path
in your mind which you can use again when the need arises.''
-- George Polya
I hear, and I forget;
Prep problems, when assigned, must be done before the beginning of class,
by the time deadline given.
The prep problems must be done on WeBWorK, a web-based system that provides
different, but equivalent, problems to each student, and allows correction
of errors before final submission and recording.
I see, and I remember;
I do, and I understand.
Homework is assigned for each section. Homework assignments will be
collected about twice a week, but you are advised to do the problems
from each section right after the class meeting on that section. A
selection of the problems turned in will be graded. You are allowed
and encouraged to discuss homework and prep problems with others, but
(see the College Academic Honesty policy) ultimately you must work the
problems and write up the assignment entirely by yourself. As a
general rule, you must justify your answers: Explain, or show your
work. Let the Golden Rule be your guide in preparing this homework:
write it as if you were the person who would have to grade it.
Acknowledge your sources (people and texts).
In nontrivial problems, show how you get your answers.
Turn in neat, well-written solutions, not messy first drafts. Trim "fringes."
Do not copy collaborative solutions; write up solutions in your own words.
Turn in homework on time. (Consult your instructor for their policy
on late homework.)
Advice from Your Peers
When asked what advice they would give a student about to take Calculus
I, previous students most often responded with the following suggestions:
Study frequently, in small doses.
Work on calculus every night. Stay caught up with the homework.
Read the text sections to be covered before and after class.
Ask questions early and often. Don't just assume you'll figure it out later.
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