Penguins, Pringles and Particles

Penguins, Pringles and Particles Written by Sarah Cartwright
Penguins, Pringles and Particles

Have you ever wondered why penguins can’t fly? Are robots really going to take over the world? Why do some music notes sound beautiful together and others make you cringe? How does JPEG store digital images? There are so many questions around us. When we think of ‘Multi-variable Calculus’ we don’t often think of penguins, but may imagine many long, tiring hours solving problems. But as my violin instructor used to say, we must take care of the ‘dirty laundry’ (scales) in order to enjoy wearing nice clothes (performing Mozart or Bach). If we only see the complex math problems, we miss the beauty of what they tell us. And who wants to miss learning about a bioluminescent octopus and space travel simply because the ‘dirty laundry’ is sometimes frustrating? I want to encourage you to challenge yourself this year with Calculus 2 for three reasons: it’s fun, it’s useful, and it glorifies God.

Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not fun. Climbing mountains is hard, but the view from the top is inspiring. In Calculus 2, I hope you will see how fun and exciting God’s creation is. We will explore the three-dimensional graph of a Pringle (yes, there actually is a quadric surface in the shape of a Pringle!), learn how Moire animation works, visualize computer graphics used in the Lord of the Rings, discover the calculus of ocean charting and 3D printed houses, and even debate the best curvature for holding a slice of pizza! We learn the more complete versions of the physics equations we have come to know, realizing the world is so much more beautiful and complex than we have ever seen before. We will begin every class with a highlight to see how we can relate what we are learning to real life. 

This course also looks outstanding on a resume. As an advanced course eligible for dual enrolment credit for junior and senior diploma students, the course delves into concepts such as infinite series, parametric and polar equations, 3-dimensional calculus, triple integrals and vector-valued functions. This course will prepare you for university-level calculus and beyond. It may also push you up that extra notch in the application process. As an AP Calculus BC course approved by the College Board, you will have a good chance of scoring very highly on the AP exam. I have had students score exceptionally on this exam and go on to become national merit scholars, accepted into highly-ranked universities around the world. It also looks good in a letter of recommendation to have your teacher praise your determination in taking on such an advanced topic. We know that we ‘reap what we sow’ (Galatians 6:7) and God will be faithful to see us through, whatever challenges lie ahead.

Finally, hard work glorifies God. We are told the ‘soul of the diligent is richly supplied’ (Proverbs 13:4). By enjoying God’s creation through diligent study, we are learning something more of our relationship with God. I love the quote from C.S. Lewis, ‘In science we have been reading only the notes to a poem; in Christianity we find the poem itself.’ Allow your lens of faith to influence your decisions and work ethic this year. Look past the ‘dirty laundry’ and see the benefits and beauty of what we are studying. I pray you all have a fantastic year ahead, learning more of God’s glory through studying His creation.