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Active Prelude to Calculus 2019 Edition

Active Prelude to Calculus is designed as a college-level preparatory text for students who aspire to take calculus and who either need to take a course to prepare them for calculus or want to do some additional self-study. In particular, the text is intended as an appropriate prerequisite base for students who will go on to study from Active Calculus while also encouraging and promoting an active learning approach. The HTML version of the text includes about 150 anonymous, interactive exercises; static versions of those problems are included in PDF and print. In addition, the text offers about 120 activities designed for student engagement in and out of class.

There are links to interactive Desmos activities, interactive applets, and even some interactive Javascript graphics embedded in the text. These features are best accessed in HTML. In addition, all of the graphics are full-color in the electronic versions. To keep costs low, the bound, print version for sale on Amazon is in black and white.

Many of the core topics of the course will be familiar to students who have completed high school. At the same time, we take a perspective on every topic that emphasizes its important in calculus. The reader will find that the text requires them to engage actively with the material, to view topics from multiple perspectives, and to develop deep conceptual understanding of ideas. Many courses at the high school and college level with titles such as college algebra, precalculus, and trigonometry serve other disciplines and prepare students for courses other than calculus. As such, these prerequisite classes frequently contain wide-ranging material that, while mathematically interesting and important, isn't necessary for calculus. Perhaps because of these additional topics, certain ideas that are essential in calculus can be under-emphasized or ignored. In Active Prelude to Calculus, one of our top goals is to keep the focus narrow on the following most important ideas. See more about the motivating forces behind the text in the Our Goals section of the text's preface. Students who will use the text are especially encouraged to read the Students! Read This! section of the preface.

Through direct request to the author by email (boelkinm at gvsu dot edu) or by joining the Active Calculus Users Google group for instructors, a collection of ancillary materials is available to instructors, including WeBWorK .def files and activities workbooks (.pdf files that include only the activities along with room for students to write). Sample syllabi, quiz banks of questions, and more are available by direct request to the author.

If your department does not have easy access to WeBWorK, we recommend that you consider Edfinity, a low cost online platform that provides an easy-to-use and modern interface with access to the database of WeBWorK problems. In particular, at the Active Prelude page on Edfinity's site, you'll find an already established collection of problem sets that align with the text.

Instructors are strongly encouraged to have their students use the Activities Workbook. This workbook is simply a PDF document that has a single activity per page along with room for students to record their work and thinking. Instructors can provide students with the PDF, have their bookstore or copy center create coursepacks for students to purchase for a small fee, or purchase a bound workbook directly from Amazon. To acquire a PDF copy of the Activities Workbook, please contact the author directly: boelkinm at gvsu dot edu.

There’s a related online resource that users absolutely shouldn’t miss: the MTH 124 playlist on the GVSU Math YouTube page. The 123 screencasts for MTH 124 correspond to chapters 1-5 and are listed in order by section number.

Active Prelude to Calculus was first made publicly available in January 2019. The text is free and open-source; the source code can be found on GitHub.