The Math Lab
The mathematics department believes that a student learns mathematics by doing mathematics. To encourage active learning, our entry-level courses, Calculus 1 and 2, have a laboratory component. All of our laboratory sections are limited to sixteen students. Each week, students come to the mathematics lab, a room with tables rather than desks. The students sit around the tables and work intensely in groups to solve challenging problems. Laboratory activities may include material recently covered in class or it could be used to have students extend or generalize concepts. In any case, they are asked to use their mathematics, their graphing calculators and their writing skills to generate and communicate their solutions. In the laboratory they are active learners. The lab instructor serves as a mentor who replies to student questions with focused questions to try and help the student to discover the answers to their own questions.
In the second year the laboratory experience continues with Calculus 3. The philosophy remains the same but in this course we make use of the sixteen Apple workstations using the symbolic manipulator Mathematica. This sophisticated and powerful program can graph in two and three dimensions, solve equations, do differentiation and integration and is itself a programming language.
The elective course, Differential Equations, also has a lab component that uses Mathematica and some specialized software. Mathematics majors have twenty-four hour access to Roger Bacon Hall and the Mathematics Laboratory is always available for their use when there is no laboratory or class scheduled for the room.