Calculators in education
We have personal computers at the office and at home. The personal computer performs powerful mathematics calculations. On the other hand, there are several kinds of calculators used in education and engineering fields. Calculators are small enough to carry anywhere. The calculator used in education should be small and battery operated. It's important that we can use the calculator immediately after turning the power on. These features give value to calculators and a different role when compared with personal computers. Calculators should be used with a good text book and activities in the classroom. A calculator is one tool for learning mathematics and becomes a good friend for students to explore mathematics.
There are three different styles of calculators used in education.
1. Scientific calculator
Scientific calculator has many scientific functions like sin(x), log(x) and so on, and has a capability to calculate the equation with parenthesis. The scientific calculator is used for calculations that require decimal numbers and results that require a lot of calculation such as matrix operations. It helps students to spend their time exploring the problem instead of repetitive work.
2. Graphic calculator
Graphic calculator has a large display and the capability to draw a graph.
3. CAS calculator like ClassPad
Scientific and graphic calculator calculates the equation with numbers. When the equation has variables, a number substituted to the variable is used for evaluation. But the CAS calculator evaluates the equation as an expression. This means we can factor the equation like x^2-1=(x+1)(x-1).
The use of a calculator changes the teaching and learning style. For example, it makes sense to solve the systems of equations with a calculator. The student's job is to create the equation, understand the meaning of the system and evaluate the result after the calculation. We can browse the internet and find many examples, formulas and mathematical dictionaries. But the internet doesn't solve the problem. It's our job to understand the information and formulate a solution.