Many hackers are self-taught and avoid powerful math tools that might let them take creations to the next level. We aim to create a structured set of modules consisting of hands-on 3D printing and electronics projects, with thorough text documentation and minimal supporting algebra. These modules will teach calculus in this hacker style both for self-learners and others, like the visually impaired, who need hands-on learning.
When Isaac Newton developed calculus in the 1600s, he was trying to tie together math and physics in an intuitive, geometrical way. But over time math and physics teaching became heavily weighted toward algebra, and less toward geometrical problem-solving. However, many practicing mathematicians and physicists will get their intuition geometrically first and do the algebra later. We want to let people get to that point directly without passing through (much) algebra, particularly people who learn best by making something.
This project started as an entry in the Hackaday Prize. We are now developing a Hacker Calculus book to be published by MIT Press. As models are developed for the book, we will be putting them in a repository on Github. Check out the state of the project as we described it at the UC Berkeley Graduate Education Seminar recently.
Often students with visual impairments have difficulty with concepts based on visual/spatial relationships, particularly in math and science. 3D prints offer an unprecedented asset for their teachers, and 3D printers are becoming affordable. But these teachers need help designing models. We have been volunteer mentors to various groups working on figuring out the best ways to use 3D printing for the visually impaired. Our goal with this project is to document some simple, practical conventions for designing models, and lay the groundwork so that interested parties can create the needed designs. We know that schools have 3D printers and want to teach design thinking to their students. This project creates a minimalist open-source way to link teachers who need design files and (sighted) students who want projects to do. We want students to create the designs for the needed models, learning science, math and other subjects while helping their visually-impaired peers.
If you would like to make a request or help fulfill one, join our Google group.
It is more feasible to create your own lab equipment than ever before with the advent of 3D printing, low-cost Arduino sensors and other “maker” technologies. It is also possible to have citizen scientist collaborators who cannot only take data for you, but follow open-source plans to create their own equipment. To learn more, come to the AAAS Pacific Division’s Third Annual Scientific Maker Exhibit and associated workshop in Pomona, CA June 15, 2018, as part of the overall AAAS Pacific Division meeting which runs June 12-15. The main conference page is linked below.