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# NSW Education Standards Authority

## Calculus Topic Guide

The Mathematics syllabuses are the documents used to inform the scope of content that will
be assessed in the HSC examinations.

Topic Guides provide support for the Mathematics Stage 6 courses. They contain information
organised under the following headings: Prior learning; Terminology; Use of technology;
Background information; General comments; Future study; Considerations and teaching
strategies; Suggested applications and exemplar questions.

Topic Guides illustrate ways to explore syllabus-related content and consequently do not
define the scope of problems or learning experiences that students may encounter through
their study of a topic. The terminology list contains terms that may be used in the teaching and
learning of the topic. The list is not exhaustive and is provided simply to aid discussion.

Please provide any feedback to the Mathematics and Numeracy Curriculum Inspector.

## Date published December 2018

Revision date NA
Contents
Contents ................................................................................................................................ 2

## Prior learning ........................................................................................................................ 3

Terminology .......................................................................................................................... 3

## Future study .......................................................................................................................... 4

Subtopics .............................................................................................................................. 5
ME-C1: Rates of Change .................................................................................................................... 6

## Suggested applications and exemplar questions .......................................................................... 9

Mathematics Extension 1 Year 11 Topic guide: Calculus, updated December 2018 Page 2 of 10
Topic focus
The topic Calculus involves the study of how things change and provides a framework for
developing quantitative models of change and deducing their consequences. It involves the
development of the connections between rates of change and related rates of change, the
derivatives of functions and the manipulative skills necessary for the effective use of
differential calculus.

## The study of calculus is important in developing students’ knowledge and understanding of

related rates of change and developing the capacity to operate with and model situations
involving change, using algebraic and graphical techniques to describe and solve problems
and to predict outcomes with relevance to, for example the physical, natural and medical
sciences, commerce and the construction industry.

Prior learning
The material in this topic builds on content from the Number and Algebra strand of the
Mathematics K–10 syllabus, including the Stage 5.3 substrands of Ratios and Rates, Algebraic
Techniques, Surds and Indices, Equations, Linear Relationships and Non-Linear
Relationships.

Additionally, content in this topic links to and builds upon material from the Mathematics
Advanced syllabus, including the year 11 topics of Functions, Calculus and Exponentials and
Logarithms.

Terminology
acceleration ecosystem particle
carrying capacity exponential model population
chain rule exponential growth/decay population growth
composition of functions growth population growth constant
constant rate half-life population model
decay initial conditions position
differential equation limit rate of change
displacement modified exponential model related rate of change
distance Newton’s Law of Cooling velocity

Use of technology
Graphing calculators or graphing technologies are a suitable means of exploring many of the
concepts studied in this topic and their use is encouraged in teaching and learning.

In particular, graphing software is useful for modelling exponential growth and decay.

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Background information
The development of calculus has significantly contributed to our understanding of motion and
dynamic change in the world around us. Following the work of Isaac Newton (1642–1727),
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) and many other mathematicians in developing the
foundations of calculus, there was a move in the 19th century to reform the way in which
calculus was taught. Of particular note was the work of Reverend William Ritchie (1790–1837)
as he endeavoured to make calculus more broadly accessible by using a more practical
presentation of calculus concepts. In 1836, his work Principles of Differential and Integral
Calculus was published and illustrated the use of related rates problems of similar nature to
those we use today. It is clear to see from the organisation of his work that he viewed practical
representations such as related rates problems to be essential and fundamental to the
presentation of calculus and covered this material prior to applications such as tangents,
normals, extrema etc.

Exploration of the calculus reform movements of the 19th century, such as the work of Ritchie,
Angustus De Morgan (1806–1871) and James Connell (1804–1846) may be of interest to
students. It is an engaging piece of history which showcases how the development of a field of
study and mathematical advances can be challenged through alternate approaches to make
the mathematics more accessible.

This topic extends students’ knowledge of differential calculus through the study of rates of
change, exponential growth and decay and related rates of change, which are important in
many practical applications and essential for many more advanced aspects of mathematics.

Students are required to develop a strong conceptual understanding of rates of change and
their use for describing the behaviour of variables in the physical world.

The study of the motion of a particle along the 𝑥-axis is the study of an abstract situation, but it
allows students to develop mathematical knowledge, skills and understanding that may be
applied later in more complex contexts, describing the behaviour of real objects in real time.

Cross-curricular links are encouraged in relation to this topic area, with the obvious links to
science subjects, but also to environmental studies and to commerce and finance.

## Examples should be kept as mathematically simple as possible, with the emphasis on

understanding the behaviour of the system. Students will not be expected to derive the
𝑑𝑁
solution to the differential equation 𝑑𝑡
= 𝑘𝑁, but they should know that the function 𝑁 = 𝐴𝑒 𝑘𝑡 ,
with 𝐴 = 𝑁(0), satisfies this differential equation.

Future study
Students need to ensure that they can efficiently describe and interpret situations involving
rates of change with respect to time, growth and decay and related rates of change to solve
problems and facilitate work in later topics.

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Subtopics
 ME-C1: Rates of Change

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ME-C1: Rates of Change

Subtopic focus
The principal focus of this subtopic is for students to solve problems involving the chain rule
and differentiation of the exponential function, and understand how these concepts can be
applied to the physical and natural sciences.

Students develop the ability to study motion problems in an abstract situation, which may in
later studies be applied to large and small mechanical systems, from aeroplanes and satellites
to miniature robotics. Students also study the mathematics of exponential growth and decay,
two fundamental processes in the natural environment.

## Considerations and teaching strategies

 Review of the following may be needed to meet the needs of students:
˗ Gradient of a function and difference quotients in practical contexts; derivatives and
their graphs – This relates to content covered in Mathematics Advanced topic MA-C1
(C1.2, 1.3, 1.4).
𝑑𝑄
 The rate of change of some physical quantity 𝑄 is defined as . This can be justified by
𝑑𝑡
𝑄(𝑠)−𝑄(𝑡) 𝑑𝑃
considering lim 𝑠−𝑡 . The rate of change of the population 𝑃 of a town defined as 𝑑𝑡
or
𝑠→𝑡
𝑑𝑉
the rate of change of the volume of water in a container defined as could be used as
𝑑𝑡
examples.
 In answering questions on rates of change, students should be encouraged to draw
𝑑𝑄
sketches of 𝑄 and 𝑑𝑡 as functions of 𝑡 wherever possible.
 Examples should be kept as mathematically simple as possible, with the emphasis on
understanding the behaviour of the system.
 Velocity is defined as the rate of change of displacement with respect to time, and
acceleration as the rate of change of velocity with respect to time.
 The notations 𝑥̇ and 𝑥̈ should be introduced and used.
 Examples should concentrate on simple applications, including physical descriptions of the
motion of a particle given its distance from an origin, its velocity or its acceleration as a
function of time.
 The significance of ‘negative’ displacements, velocities and accelerations should be
clearly understood, including the four cases:
(i) 𝑣 > 0, 𝑎 > 0
(ii) 𝑣 > 0, 𝑎 < 0
(iii) 𝑣 < 0, 𝑎 < 0
(iv) 𝑣 < 0, 𝑎 > 0.
 To avoid ambiguity, if a question requires the greatest magnitude of displacement, of
velocity, or of acceleration, then the term ‘greatest magnitude’ should be used. For
example, 2 > −4, but the magnitude of a velocity of – 4 is greater than the magnitude of a

Mathematics Extension 1 Year 11 Topic guide: Calculus, updated December 2018 Page 6 of 10
velocity of 2.

## Suggested applications and exemplar questions

 A particle is moving along the 𝑥 axis. Its velocity 𝑣 at position 𝑥 is given by
𝑣 = √10𝑡 − 𝑡 2 . Find the acceleration of the particle when 𝑡 = 4.
 A cooler, which is initially full, is drained so that at time 𝑡 seconds the volume of water 𝑉 ,
𝑡 2
in litres, is given by 𝑉 = 25 (1 − ) for 0 ≤ 𝑡 ≤ 60.
60

## (a) How much water was initially in the cooler?

(b) After how many seconds was the cooler one-quarter full?
(c) At what rate was the water draining out when the cooler was one-quarter full?

## Considerations and teaching strategies

 Students could initially sketch the curve 𝑦 = 𝐴𝑒 𝑘𝑡 for various values of 𝐴 and 𝑘, both
positive and negative.
 Let 𝑁 be the number of individuals in a population. Note that 𝑁(𝑡) is a function of time.
Assume that the birth and death rates at any one time are proportional to 𝑁, so that the
𝑑𝑁
rate of change of population is given by 𝑑𝑡 = 𝑘𝑁.
In a particular context, 𝑘 is assumed to be constant and is called the ‘growth rate’. The
value of 𝑘 may be different for different species or locations. Whilst the value of 𝑘 is often
𝑑𝑁
given as a percentage, in 𝑑𝑡 = 𝑘𝑁, 𝑘 should be expressed as a decimal or fraction.
If 𝑘 > 0, the birth rate is larger than the death rate, while if 𝑘 < 0 the birth rate is smaller
than the death rate. If for a particular species the birth and death rates are equal, then
𝑘 = 0, 𝑁 is constant and the population is static.
𝑑𝑁
 Derivation of the solution of 𝑑𝑡
= 𝑘𝑁 is not required.
 The idea of an ‘initial population’, 𝑁(0) should be introduced and that 𝐴 = 𝑁(0) is the
initial value of 𝑁.
 In exponential decay, the time taken for the initial quantity to halve is called the ‘half-life’.
ln 2
 When the population has reached twice its size, 2𝐴 = 𝐴𝑒 𝑘𝑡 , leading to 𝑡 = . This is
𝑘
called the ‘doubling-time’. The population will double again, to 4𝐴, when another doubling-
time has passed, and so on. This can be used to sketch the function.
 The same equation, 𝑓(𝑡) = 𝐴𝑒 𝑘𝑡 , describes both exponential growth and exponential
decay. The value of 𝑘 will be positive for growth and negative for decay. Some students
may prefer to use 𝑓(𝑡) = 𝐴𝑒 −𝑘𝑡 for decay, in which case 𝑘 is positive.
 Students should understand the limitations of the exponential growth model in real-world
situations.
𝑑𝑁
 When considering 𝑑𝑡 = 𝑘(𝑁 − 𝑃) and 𝑁(𝑡) = 𝑃 + 𝐴𝑒 𝑘𝑡 , note that when 𝑃 > 0, 𝑘 < 0, and
𝐴 < 0, the initial value of 𝑁 (which is 𝑃 + 𝐴) will be less than 𝑃. The graph of 𝑁
approaches the limiting value of 𝑃 from below.
 The question arises as to why some populations 𝑁(𝑡) would grow according to the rule

Mathematics Extension 1 Year 11 Topic guide: Calculus, updated December 2018 Page 7 of 10
𝑑𝑁 𝑑𝑁
𝑑𝑡
= 𝑘𝑁 and others according to the rule 𝑑𝑡 = 𝑘(𝑁 − 𝑃). The role of the environment
could be considered. In the latter case, 𝑃 might represent a natural ‘carrying capacity’ for
the ecosystem, and as 𝑁 approaches 𝑃 B, the lack of space and food limits the growth of
the population and the rate of change becomes smaller.
 While the concept of exponential growth is often applied above to populations, it could
equally well be applied to depletion of natural resources, industrial production, inflation etc.
 It should be noted that ‘Newton’s law of cooling’ also applies to bodies that are placed in
surroundings that are warmer than the initial temperature of the body, so that the body
becomes warmer.

## Suggested applications and exemplar questions

 Examples from science (radioactive decay, carbon dating, rates of chemical reactions,
absorption of light in water, biodegradability, loss of moisture from food, depletion of
resources), finance (such as situations examples involving continuous compounding,
where the instantaneous rate of increase due to compounding at rate 𝑟 is proportional to
𝑑𝑃
the principal 𝑃 held at time 𝑡, that is 𝑑𝑡 = 𝑟𝑃) and other practical situations should be
given.
 The growth rate of a population of bacteria is 10% of the population. At 𝑡 = 0, the
population is 1.0 × 106 . Sketch the graph of population against time and determine the
population after 3.5 hours, correct to four significant figures.
Note: The term ‘growth rate per hour’ is a widely used method of indicating that the time
is to be measured in hours. The value of 𝑘 is not a measure of an average rate of
increase over a period of one hour; rather, it indicates the instantaneous rate of increase
of the population.
 On an island, the population in 1960 was 1732, and in 1970 it was 1260. Find the annual
growth rate to the nearest percent, assuming it is proportional to the population. In how
many years will the population be half of what it was in 1960?
 Professor Smith has a colony of bacteria. Initially there are 1000 bacteria. The number of
bacteria, 𝑁(𝑡), after 𝑡 minutes is given by 𝑁(𝑡) = 1000𝑒 𝑘𝑡 .
(a) After 20 minutes there are 2000 bacteria. Show that 𝑘 = 0.0347 correct to four
decimal places.
(b) How many bacteria are there when 𝑡 = 120?
(c) What is the rate of change of the number of bacteria per minute, when 𝑡 = 120?
(d) How long does it take for the number of bacteria to increase from 1000 to 100 00?
 One model for the number of mobile phones in use worldwide is the exponential growth
model, 𝑁 = 𝐴𝑒 𝑘𝑡 , where 𝑁 is the estimate for the number of mobile phones in use (in
millions), and 𝑡 is the time in years after 1 January 2008.
(a) It was estimated that at the start of 2009, when 𝑡 = 1, there were1600 million mobile
phones in use, while at the start of 2010, when 𝑡 = 2, there will be 2600 million. Find 𝐴
and 𝑘 .
(b) According to the model, during which month and year will the number of mobile
phones in use first exceed 4000 million?
 A salad, which is initially at a temperature of 25o C, is placed in a refrigerator that has a
constant temperature of 3o C. The cooling rate of the salad is proportional to the difference
between the temperature of the refrigerator and the temperature, 𝑇, of the salad. That is, 𝑇

Mathematics Extension 1 Year 11 Topic guide: Calculus, updated December 2018 Page 8 of 10
𝑑𝑇
satisfies the equation 𝑑𝑡 = −𝑘(𝑇 − 3), 𝑘 > 0 where 𝑡 is the number of minutes after the
salad is placed in the refrigerator.
(a) Show that 𝑇 = 3 + 𝐴𝑒 −𝑘𝑡 satisfies this equation.
(b) The temperature of the salad is 11°C after 10 minutes. Find the temperature of the

## Considerations and teaching strategies

 A suitable starting point is the revision of the chain rule, using a variety of pronumerals for
the variables.
 If a diagram is constructed as part of solving a problem, care needs to be taken to
correctly identify (and label accordingly) fixed and varying quantities.

## Suggested applications and exemplar questions

 A ferry wharf consists of a floating pontoon linked to a jetty by a four-metre long walkway.
Let ℎ metres be the difference in height between the top of the pontoon and the top of the
jetty and let 𝑥 metres be the horizontal distance between the pontoon and the jetty.

## (a) Find an expression for 𝑥 in terms of ℎ.

(b) When the top of the pontoon is one metre lower than the top of the jetty, the tide is
rising at a rate of 0.3 metres per hour. At what rate is the pontoon moving away from
the jetty?
 A spherical balloon is being deflated so that the radius decreases at a constant rate of
10 mm per second. Calculate the rate of change of volume when the radius of the balloon
is 100 mm.
 A spherical bubble is expanding so that its volume increases at the constant rate of
70 mm3 per second. What is the rate of increase of its surface area when the radius is
10 mm?
 A hot air balloon is at a constant height of 160 metres above the ground, and moving
parallel to the ground at a speed of 20 metres per minute. Find the rate at which the
balloon is moving away from an observer on the ground at the time when the distance
from the observer to the balloon is 400 metres.
Note that the equation to set up is 𝑟 2 = 1602 + 𝑥 2 , where 𝑟 is the straight-line distance and
𝑥 is the horizontal distance of the observer to the balloon. Then, it may be easier to use the
𝑑𝑟 𝑑𝑥
chain rule to get 2𝑟 = 2𝑥 rather than make 𝑟 the subject and differentiate
𝑑𝑡 𝑑𝑡
1
𝑑𝑟 1 𝑑𝑥
𝑟 = √1602 + 𝑥 2 to get 𝑑𝑡 = (1602 + 𝑥 2 )−2 2𝑥 .
2 𝑑𝑡

 The diagram shows two identical circular cones with a common vertical axis. Each cone

Mathematics Extension 1 Year 11 Topic guide: Calculus, updated December 2018 Page 9 of 10
has height ℎ cm and semi-vertical angle 45°.

The lower cone is completely filled with water. The upper cone is lowered vertically into
𝑑𝑙
the water as shown in the diagram. The rate at which it is lowered is given by = 10,
𝑑𝑡
where 𝑙 cm is the distance the upper cone has descended into the water after 𝑡 seconds.
As the upper cone is lowered, water spills from the lower cone. The volume of water
remaining in the lower cone at time 𝑡 is 𝑉 cm3 .
𝜋
(a) Show that 𝑉 = (ℎ3 − 𝑙 3 ).
3

(b) Find the rate at which 𝑉 is changing with respect to time when 𝑙 = 2.
(c) Find the rate at which 𝑉 is changing with respect to time when the lower cone has lost
1