AAPT Abstract Archive

Abstract Information

  Paper Type: Contributed
  Title: Using Differentials to Bridge the Vector Calculus Gap*
  Meeting: 126th AAPT National Meeting: Austin, TX
  Location: San Antonio
  Date: Tuesday, Jan. 14
  Time: 4:45PM
  Author: Corinne A. Manogue, Oregon State Univ.
541-737-1695, corinne@physics.orst.edu
  Co-Author(s): Tevian Dray
  Abstract: Students often have trouble "bridging the gap" between the presentations of vector calculus in mathematics and physics courses, even though they tend to cover the same topics. In education research at Oregon State Univ., Mount Holyoke College, and Grinnell College, we have discovered radical differences in the ways in which mathematicians and physicists think about these ideas. We will present a geometric approach to this material, using differentials, which emphasizes geometric visualization over algebraic manipulation of cookbook formulas. This approach combines the generality of the approach traditionally used by mathematicians with the ability to easily handle the special, highly symmetric cases which are essential for physicists and engineers.
  Footnotes: *Supported in part by NSF grants #DUE-9653250 and #DUE-0088901.

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