Calculus for Fun


Mrs. Feldman teaching her Calculus class, including Alex Kepes. (Photo taken by Mattilee Wilson)

Mattilee Wilson

The Fair Grove Calculus Class participated in a Derivative Bee on October 28th at Missouri State University.

Susanne Feldman, a high school math teacher, is in charge of the class. “One of the key components to Calculus is the ability to take derivatives,” Mrs. Feldman explained. She continued, “By definition it (a derivative) is the slope of the tangent line at any given point on a graph.” 

One of her students described a derivative is an expresses the rate of change. “You can think of it as the slope at a super specific point,” interpreted Alexandria Kepes (12). 

The Derivative Bee is a competition for High School and College students to do Calculus level math problems. This competition is ranked individually, not by school. In the first round, all students have two minutes to complete the question. Then, the students who thought they got it correct raised their papers. A teacher helped to grade it on the spot while answers were displayed on a screen. If they got it correct it was noted on their paper. 

The 30 students with the most correct answers then move on to the next round. Those who were eliminated are allowed to continue to compete in an effort to be the wildcard winner. The wildcard gives the students a chance to re-enter the competition and compete in finals.

Although Calculus is the hardest math class offered at Fair Grove, something Mrs. Feldman often says is that math builds on itself. Kepes expressed, “Calculus can be extremely difficult if you don’t have a strong mathematical foundation. Calculus builds upon everything that you learn in every previous math class. If there is a weak spot, Calculus is sure to expose it. If you are well versed in math however, it makes a lot of sense!”

With this being the beginning of the school year they’ve only had one Derivative Bee and a few months to learn how to complete the math problems. Kepes acknowledged that no one in Fair Grove placed in this competition. However, “These were college level problems, and for a team who hasn’t yet completed their first semester, I think we did well,” conveyed Kepes, “I am so glad that I went!”