Integral of the Day

A while back I had this idea of creating an integral of the day calendar.  This would be one of those calendars where you tear a page off every day and there’s a new integral waiting to greet you every morning.  The idea came from experiences I have had with some of my students.  Only a few months after taking a class on integral calculus, many of them simply forgot how to do all but the most basic integrals.  This makes things difficult when you actually have to do an integral to solve a physics or engineering problem.  The goal of the calendar was to give people a little practice doing integrals, so they would stay fresh and remember.

I have now come to the conclusion that the page-a-day calendar is a bad idea.  For one, it is a passive educational tool.  Anyone motivated enough to flip through the pages and do every one of the integrals would also have the motivation for remembering the integrals without flipping through the pages.  The product would not get to its target audience (people who actually need practice with integration) this way.  Two, I know of very few people who have ever made it through an entire year with these types of calendars.  The month of January goes by just fine, but somewhere around the middle of February the pages stop getting torn away, and the calendar just sits there collecting dust.  In fact, I am currently staring at a Dilbert page-a-day calendar stuck on February 19, 2008. 

I do have a solution to both of these problems.  Clearly, people in need of integration practice need to be forced into it.  It is their mathematical medicine to be taken with a grimace because it is good for them.  The modern student also needs a technological solution, and here it is:

THE INTEGRAL OF  THE DAY iPHONE/DROID APP!!!

Here’s how it works.  Every day the program calls up an integral from an online library and displays it somewhere on the phone’s screen.  If you touch the place where the integral is located, it calls up a box and the user can enter the answer.  If the answer is correct, the integral disappears for the rest of the day, and a new one appears the next day.  But what if the integral doesn’t get solved during the day, you ask?   The screen can now display today’s integral and yesterday’s unsolved integral at the same time.  All unsolved integrals since the download date will scroll across the bottom of the screen like a news ticker.

Another version can be released for students who really, really have trouble remembering how to integrate.  This version would be tied into the alarm clock on the phone.  When the alarm goes off, the integral to be solved appears on the screen along with a box to enter the answer.  The alarm keeps sounding until the correct answer is entered.  If an incorrect answer is entered, then the alarm either gets louder or switches to a more abrasive tone. 

I figure I can contract this product out to universities, wishing to help students currently on academic probation.  This product is a guaranteed money maker, so all you VC’s reading this blog, take note!

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5 Responses to “Integral of the Day”

  1. man, i’m really gonna have to re-think the page-a-day calendar i’m currently writing. and yes, i’m deadly serious.

  2. I’m never going to give you a Dilbert calendar again…

  3. It seems I have derailed the entire page-a-day calendar industry with this post.

  4. I got to this page searching for just such an app. I’m a first year in college, and I have to say that this sounds like a marvellous idea. After taking a gap year before starting here, just about all I ever knew about calculus has evaporated.

    I’ll have to implement this on Android at some point… but I do wonder where I’d get the enormous supply of interesting integrals I’d need to keep it going. Any ideas?

    Maybe I’d also include an IQ score – “Integral Quotient”, or the number of integrals solved correctly over integrals attempted, all multiplied by 200 =D

  5. If you want to put the program together, I can provide the integrals. They can vary in level of difficulty as well.

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