Using chocolate to teach calculus

Chocolate Chip Pi []


13 Responses to “Using chocolate to teach calculus”

  1. Thunder Shiviah says:

    Seems more like an example of the monte carlo method to me…

  2. retchdog says:

    it’s not monte carlo since it’s not random. the phrase you’re looking for is “discrete approximation”.

    as a surly academic, i want to hate this, but i really can’t. it’s a decent demonstration of taking limits and it would probably get some attention which otherwise would have been dissipated. if you had a lot of time and chocolates of various sizes, you could even hint at fractal dimension.

  3. awjt says:

    Personally, I don’t like the definition that a square with ANY part of the curve is given to white chocolate.  I feel that the dark chocolate should have those.  Yes, I am in favor of Manifest Destiny, but ONLY for dark chocolate.

  4. Robert Cruickshank says:

    Your next assignment is to use thousands of little tablets to find the value of e

  5. Guest says:

    Oh no, that chocolate would never remain on the board unmolested long enough to work out any calculus problems.   ‘Where’s the chocolate?’  Indeed.

  6. what a delicious way to teach.

  7. moonxie says:

    Ah, the days when we used to learn the chain rule with peanut M&Ms.

  8. narddogz says:


    Connect Four looks much more complicated here than how I remember it as a kid.

  9. Craig Tovey says:

    It is cute, but it isn’t calculus.  I can’t think of a good use of chocolate for teaching calculus, except as an incentive.  However, this chocolate idea is great for teaching both geometry and algebra.  You can derive  formulas for the areas of various geometric shapes such as squares, rectangles,  rhombi, trapezoids, and triangles using chocolate chips.  If you are brave you could derive formulas for  some 3D shapes such as pyramids.  You can also derive algebraic formulas such as the sum of the first k integers equals k(k+1)/2 and x^2-1=(x+1)(x-1) by rearranging chocolate chips.  There is a wonderful book called “Proofs Without Words” available from the American Math Association.  Many of its proofs could be done with chocolate.

  10. Alfangelo Hickey says:

    man this trumps domino computing

  11. Shinkuhadoken says:

    I tried this method out, but I seem to encounter an error whereby my
    calculations are increasingly off by about 1 every 30 seconds.


    Wonder why that is?


  12. robotnik says:

    When you think of the other definition of calculus, this is pretty damned funny.

  13. James French says:

    The approximation would be much more accurate if we counted the tiles that have an apparent majority of their area inside the curve.

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