Tapping at mobile phone games, waking up to sunlight on a pleasant morning or watching a Formula One race — such experiences are at the heart of modern life, and mathematics is working behind the scenes on all of them. Math is also used in many disciplines — from economics to engineering, biology to geography. But many of us struggle with math, and find formulas and theories difficult to grasp. Because of this, that we can find ourselves at a disadvantage when thinking about certain careers.
Beginning on June 29, 2015, The University of Leicester is offering members of the public the chance to take part in “Real World Calculus: How Maths Drives Formula One and Launches Angry Birds,” a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), to learn how calculus lays the foundation for many things we take for granted, from making mobile games — such as Angry Birds — work to enhancing an assortment of scientific disciplines.
The course will approach mathematics in an accessible way by taking real-world activities and using them to uncover the basic elements of calculus and to teach the importance of calculus in modern life.
Read More: MoMATH: Hands-on Mathematics Inspiring Young Minds
“Calculus is one of the greatest inventions of the human mind. It has allowed us to explore the universe, to develop amazing technology, and to understand uncertainty. Like Shakespeare, calculus is part of our heritage and its beauty and cleverness should be appreciated by society as a whole,” says Professor Jeremy Levesley from the Department of Mathematics, who teaches the course. “The MOOC gives us an amazing opportunity to reach a much larger audience than was hitherto possible. I am very excited about trying to bring a better understanding of calculus to people, so that by the end of the course, they appreciate what an amazing thing humanity discovered in calculus.”
Over a three-week period, with a workload of two hours per week, it will cover
- Differentiation: how things change
- Integration: how we put these changes together to decide what happens in the future
- The fundamental theorem of calculus: how differentiation and integration are related
It combines articles, activities and videos of experts in finance, physics and engineering describing why calculus is important in their own particular field. The course also provides the opportunity to join online discussions on a wide range of math-related topics — from the wear on car tires to who was responsible for the credit crunch.
There are no entry requirements, and anyone of any age or experience, anywhere in the world, can sign up. The course assumes no previous knowledge of calculus, or anything more complex than a general knowledge of numbers and basic algebra. Although aimed at those in school, or applying for college or university, it will also be useful and relevant to students in higher education; practitioners in a range of disciplines; and anyone who has found mathematics difficult through traditional teaching methods.
- Professor Levesley describes the ‘Real World Calculus’ MOOC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFDCzm84mb4
“Real World Calculus: How Maths Drives Formula One and Launches Angry Birds” will begin on June 29, 2015. Sign up for the course at: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/real-world-calculus
About FutureLearn Choices
“Real World Calculus” is part of FutureLearn Choices, a range of short courses that offer a taste of what a degree course will be like for those who are considering going to university. The University of Leicester has already developed three MOOCs, including one about Richard III, one about Forensic Science and Criminal Justice, and the first MOOC to be launched in Museum Studies.
FutureLearn is a social learning platform based in the UK that provides free, online courses from world-class universities. The FutureLearn course experience centers on social interaction, where people learn by engaging in conversations around the learning material. A partnership of higher and specialist education institutions from around the world joins three cultural organizations — the British Library, British Council and the British Museum — to offer quality, higher education courses to anyone with an Internet connection, anywhere in the world. FutureLearn is wholly owned by The Open University, which has over 40 years’ experience in distance and online learning.