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Pineapples and Pumpkins

Keywords: Small Group Activity, Vector Calculus, Coordinate Systems, Symmetry, Curvilinear Coordinates, Differential Elements


Highlights of the activity

  1. This small group activity or lecture is designed to help students understand how to construct infinitesimal volume elements in cylindrical and spherical coordinates.
  2. Students determine how a pineapple (for cylindrical) or a pumpkin (for spherical) should be cut to construct a volume element in the corresponding coordinate system.
  3. The whole class discussion focuses on integration in curvilinear coordinates.

Reasons to spend class time on the activity

This activity emphasizes geometry of volume elements which provides students with a concrete three dimensional example of how to construct volume elements in curvilinear coordinates.


Instructor's Guide

Authors: David Roundy
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