Why PZ Math Calc Prep

There are four primary goals for the PZ Math Calculus Prep Camp:  

  1. Give students a big picture view of the entire calculus curriculum,
  2. Review the algebra and trig skills that are crucial for calculus success,
  3. Introduce and study in depth the concept of derivative, the first fundamental idea of calculus, and
  4. Introduce mathematics as a way of thinking, including the best methods for learning and studying calculus throughout the entire academic year.

Big picture view of Calculus

Begin calculus with a big picture understanding of the two central ideas in the subject:  1) derivatives and rates of change, and 2) integrals and area. While one week is not enough time to teach the entire subject, we will teach you the central ideas, how they are related, and give an in depth look at the early topics.

Algebra and Trig Review

Success in calculus requires frequent computations involving both algebra and trig knowledge. It is not uncommon for students to understand the new ideas in calculus, yet get lost in computations because of poor algebra and trig skills. We will review the algebra and trig skills that are crucial for success in calculus.


The notion of a derivative is central to all of calculus. You will leave camp with: a thorough understanding of the limit definition of a derivative, including both algebraic and graphical representations; easier methods for computing derivatives; and an introduction to the many applications of a derivative, from physical laws of motion to optimization problems.

Math as a way of thinking

Learning mathematics is different than learning other subjects. While reading over notes and going through homework can be effective methods for studying some disciplines, they are simply not enough in math, especially calculus. In addition to teaching calculus content in this camp, we will give you the tools you need to continue learning throughout the school year and to study effectively for exams, including the AP exam. Mathematics is more than a set of tools, it’s a way of thinking -- thinking logically, analytically, and effectively. The utility of these skills transcends math. Learning mathematics can hone your problem solving and communication skills in any discipline.

Student Quote

The overall experience far exceeded my expectations…