Teacher Feature: Concepts Illustrated

Last Tuesday we brought you the story of Bob & Kevin’s Algebra II classroom conics project. Since then we’ve received messages from teachers across the country who’ve shared how Desmos has also made learning math a more enjoyable experience for their students.

Take Stephen Fast for example, a Calculus and Trigonometry teacher at Pennsylvania State University. We first heard from Stephen back in April when he dropped by our support page to say, “Best calculator ever…finally somebody who ‘gets it!’” Thanks Steve : )

We followed up to learn more about Steve, his students, and get some feedback on how he thought we could make an even better calculator. Here’s what he had to say [answers abridged]:

Q: How have you used Desmos in your classroom?

A: I teach Calculus and Trigonometry at PSU. I often share content in and out of class and encourage my students to use it.

In Calculus I have used the calculator for the sections of the syllabus where one uses 1st and 2nd derivatives to graph functions. It is interesting to be able to see the relationship between the attributes of the graphs of the function, the first derivative, and second derivative all three superimposed.

Q: What is your students’ reaction to the calculator, and why did you choose to use Desmos with your students?

A: I find it is useful to illustrate physical and mathematical principles. The students mostly use it to check their work. It also allows us to have units of pi for axis labels. After discovering all of its features, we never looked further [than Desmos].

Q: What is your favorite Desmos feature?

A: I like to be able to share graphs. I also like the way I can “program” various graphs within the UI. That allows me to put together some very complex graphs and easily change their characteristics.


Over the summer Steve plans on developing more Desmos course content for his students. We can’t wait to see what he comes up with!

-Team Desmos

A sample of Stephen’s graphs created at www.desmos.com - view his equations here: http://goo.gl/ZLQiZ