Parker Glynn-Adey

3D Printer Models for MAT 232

Posted in Computers, Math, Teaching and Learning by pgadey on 2019/11/07

This semester, I am teaching MAT 232 Multivariable Calculus. We often talk about level curves and use the saddle surface z = x^2 - y^2 as a key example. Every time it comes up, I ask students to stare at the part of their hand where the thumb meets the palm. Of course, they stare at me like I am crazy! This region of the hand is a good model for a saddle surface. If you start looking around at biological examples, you’ll see saddle surfaces everywhere.

I got interested in getting some 3D printed models of saddle surfaces to hand around the class. I found a great project 3D Printed Models for Multivariable Calculus put together by John Zweck. The STL files for the models are freely available, and I asked Reinhard Grassmann of the Continuum Robotics Lab if he could 3D print some models of saddle surfaces and the paraboloid z = x^2 + y^2 for me.

They arrived yesterday and they turned out GREAT! You can clearly see the level curves in one model, and the coordinate grid in another. They feel great to hold and are durable enough to hand around to a class of students.

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