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This is one of LaGuardia’s Project Connexion STEM Team’s experiential learning activities. Project Connexion's purpose is to promote creative thinking on how to engage students in the classroom. As part of this, the STEM team developed Experiential/co-curricular activities that demonstrated to students how their work in class connects to the world around them. These activities were embedded into the syllabus to ensure the participation of all students. Each professor designed a Co-curricular activity for their courses, ensuring that the Co-curricular activity directly linked course material to the outside world.

This Calculus I Experiential Learning Project aligns with one of the main course objectives: Compute maxima and minima of functions using calculus and solve optimization problems arising in applications and other fields of study. The project also supplements three of LaGuardia’s Core Competencies: The Global Learning proficiency, Inquiry and Problem Solving and Written Communication Ability.

LaGuardia’s Core Competencies and Communication Abilities

Global Learning asks students to approach the world’s challenges and opportunities from multiple perspectives and engage with issues of diversity, identity, democracy, power, privilege, sustainability, and ethical action. Students completing this assignment look at the application of calculus into can production and investigate if the material is used at its highest efficiency level in order to minimize the environmental issues that come with can production. The learning objectives include not only mathematical precision but also climate change education. It raises awareness on how the actions of students and their communities could impact the environment and on how each one of us can contribute towards minimizing the effect of environmental issues faced by not only New York City, but the entire world.

The assignment supplements LaGuardia’s Inquiry and Problem-Solving Core Competency, because it requires a process of exploring the environmental issues that come with can production through the collection and analysis of evidence and data that result in informed conclusions or judgments. The completion of the project goes through all dimensions of this competency: Framing the Issues, Evidence Gathering, Analysis and Conclusions. The reflection part of the project includes communicating messages to others, knowledge construction, fosters understanding and/or influences theirs and others’ opinion on environmental issues as pertaining to can use, which makes this assignment suitable for assessing LaGuardia’s Written Communication Ability Core competency as well.

The project completion would normally take 4-5 hours and it is suggested to be 10-15% of their final grade. The assessment demonstrated a higher level of conceptual understanding and knowledge retention as a result of this Experiential Learning Project. Calculus 1 is taken by students majoring in different disciplines. Students participating in the above project were mainly from Engineering, Computer Science, Business Administration, Liberal Arts Math and Science, Undecided, etc.

The project offers students meaningful opportunities to analyze and explore complex global challenges, communicate respectfully in diverse environments, and apply learning to take responsible, ethical action in contemporary global contexts. The project raises awareness about the issue of climate change. It helps with understanding of the interrelationships among the self, local and global communities, promotes the recognition of responsibilities at the local level and the perspectives on ethics and power locally and globally. Exploring the efficiency of can production and their use will make students self-aware of how theirs and the greater community actions affect climate change.


This resource is part of the Learning Matters Assignment Library.

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