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What do scientific calculators do that graphing ones don't? & another calc question..


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My sons are wondering why the scientific calculator is not permitted on the AP Calculus exam and therefore what it can do that the graphing one can't.


While I'm at it - does anyone know on a graphing calculator - how to change a decimal answer to what I would call a "standard form" answer? (I could be wrong about those words so I'll give an example - to a fraction or a square root type answer)? We have a TI 84+ silver edition...but are getting a TI-Nspire shortly.

Thanks!
Joan

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While I'm at it - does anyone know on a graphing calculator - how to change a decimal answer to what I would call a "standard form" answer? (I could be wrong about those words so I'll give an example - to a fraction or a square root type answer)? We have a TI 84+ silver edition...but are getting a TI-Nspire shortly.

 

 

I'm no help on the AP, but on the 84 to change a decimal to a fraction, click on MATH, then 1:Frac.

 

So if you did 1/3 + 1/3 then (MATH) (1:Frac) it'll show the answer as 2/3.

 

The 84 won't do radical form (89 will - but that's also why it's not allowed for some exams). Don't know if the Nspire will or not.

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The Calculus AP exams don't allow scientific calculators because the exam has very specific questions that require graphing calculators. A kid with only a scientific calculator would forfeit the points on those questions. So it's really just a matter of helping the kids succeed on the test.

 

The specific graphing calculator procedures that are tested are listed here.

 

This isn't to say that I agree with these policies; it seems to me that it's just an exercise in button-pushing over understanding. I loved the old days where no calculators were allowed at all. :tongue_smilie:

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OK, I see what you're saying.

 

I should have put more of why I was wondering...

 

My son prefers the scientific one for speed. So originally I'd been thinking he would take one graphing and one scientific.

 

And then, my ds2 who is in engineering school, is still only allowed to use a scientific calculator. So I was wondering if he gets some kind of advantage that they don't get in AP (real neophyte here and just curious).

 

So there's really nothing that a scientific calc can do that a graphing can't?

 

(Next year, when ds3 does these courses at uni for people entering without the typical Swiss diploma, he won't be allowed to use any calculator on his exams.)

 

My son was embarrassed that I'd asked that question about changing decimals to fractions as he says he knew the answer (I wasn't up to date). But now at least I know how to too.

 

Thank you all!

Joan

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I can see why your son would want to have both kinds of calculators on the exam. My kids also prefer a scientific calculator for quick calculations. In fact, that's the type they'd bring to SAT and SAT II tests. But for some reason, College Board prohibits non-graphing scientific calculators on the AP test.

 

I can't really think of anything a scientific calculator could do that a graphing calculator couldn't do...of course, there might be some minor exception...

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So there's really nothing that a scientific calc can do that a graphing can't?

 

 

The graphing calculators ARE scientific calculators - but with graphing capabilities and more stuff generally programmed.

 

The scientific calc: TI-30XIIS does convert improper fractions or decimals to mixed numbers while the 84 doesn't do mixed numbers, so that's one thing I'm aware of as a difference.

 

I like calculators as tools and for investigating patterns. I wouldn't be showing my son as much as I have with exponents without the calculator. However, I really really hate, loathe, abhor, and despise how reliant people are on calculators now. (Not that I feel strongly...)

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So, which calculator do you recommend in general for high school and tests?

 

YMMV... and hopefully you'll get other opinions.

 

At the cc, I use what the department requires students to have - at lower-levels the TI30XIIS and at upper-levels, the TI-84 (possibly changing to the Nspire). Personally, I wouldn't want anything more than the scientific calculator until College Algebra. I want students to have familiarity with manipulating expressions algebraically and not getting hung up on key punching. So I'm very anti-calculator that way.

 

I am getting my son a TI30XIIS next year (so 4th grade - sigh). He will only use it for word problems (Singapore CWP) and any "challenge/exploration" problems I give him. I've let him use mine during our reading of The Number Devil. I'm getting the calculator because he'll be taking the EXPLORE next year, so I want him to get comfortable using the calculator before taking the test.

 

When he's in middle school and high school, I'll probably resist getting a graphing calculator as long as I can. When I get one, it'll probably be a TI - but one that doesn't have a CAS (computer algebra system - the type that would simplify a radical - the TI89 and 92 are examples of this). If I know he'll be taking an exam (like AP, SAT, ACT), I'll look at what's allowed at that time and be sure to get a model that's on the most approved lists. If I were having him take a course at the CC or university, I'd be checking what they wanted. There are good reasons for having a standard calculator within a department, so I'd work to buy the fewest number of calculators (although I've got quite a few here already).

 

Summarize - depends on what tests he'll take. Preference is TI30XIIS right now with the TI84 later - but I haven't looked at requirements/restrictions on testing lists.

 

I dislike Casio graphing calculators. HP is good, but I haven't looked at them in years.

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I dislike Casio graphing calculators. HP is good, but I haven't looked at them in years.

 

HPs are a special class onto themselves. The people who love them will use nothing else. I have found that dedicated HP users are usually engineers or computer science types--although not all engineers and CS people prefer the Reverse Polish Notation that HP employs.

 

Many of the math texts that have Calculator algorithms built into the sidebars of the text assume that students are using TIs. The 84 was the most popular model in recent years, but I suspect with Dana that this will shift to the Nspire (hate that name!) down the road.

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First - thanks Dana and Kathy! Those finer points help me understand....

 

Second, you have me curious Dana...

 

When I get one, it'll probably be a TI - but one that doesn't have a CAS (computer algebra system - the type that would simplify a radical - the TI89 and 92 are examples of this).

 

...

 

I dislike Casio graphing calculators.

 

Why wouldn't you get CAS?...and why you dislike Casio (it is one of the main brands schools use over here, at least in this area)?

 

Jane, ETA you were posting while I was and you have me curious too...

I suspect with Dana that this will shift to the Nspire (hate that name!) down the road.
Why?

 

 

Thanks,

Joan

Edited by Joan in Geneva
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The 84 was the most popular model in recent years, but I suspect with Dana that this will shift to the Nspire (hate that name!) down the road.

 

 

Jane, ETA you were posting while I was and you have me curious too...

Why?

 

Thanks,

Joan

 

Because TI will offer incentives for schools to incorporate their latest technology into classrooms!

 

Some of the Nspires hook into a wireless system so that students can interact with a computer at the front of the class. This is one of those classroom participation things that will sound good to parents and some educators--and maybe it can be used well. At this point, it seems a bit gimmicky to me. But I seem to be in a cynical frame of mind these days...

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The local community college catalog specifies TI's and I've never seen a TI cheaper than at the college bookstore except occasionally on sale at Wal-Mart. It's a moot point at our house; ds and dh both insist that Reverse Polish Notation is an absolute requirement for successful calculator use, so ds has two HP's; a scientific model for science exams and a graphing model for math classes which use calculators.

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Second, you have me curious Dana...

 

 

Why wouldn't you get CAS?...and why you dislike Casio (it is one of the main brands schools use over here, at least in this area)?

 

My first graphing calculator was a Casio (think it was one of the first graphing calculators... back in the 80s). I don't like them now mainly because when teaching a class, you want to be able to show everyone how to do something once. It's tough enough teaching students "push this, then this, look at this, now interpret it." It's worse when it's "If you have this model..." "Now if you have this model..."

 

The TI is what our department requires, so it's what I know.

I don't like the "Solve" feature on some calculators (and most casios have it) that'll solve a linear equation for you. Now all the graphing calculators have downloadable programs that'll solve equations and do bunches of stuff, but I delete programs before students can use their calculator.

 

The CAS are a problem because EVERYTHING I'm teaching (apart from word problems), I can do on my computer and get exact answers. I don't CARE that they can get an answer. I want them to THINK and to UNDERSTAND how the math works. Not "I pushed this button and the calculator said this!" The overreliance on the calculator keeps my students from thinking.

 

This may not be the case across the board - but it is my experience at the lower-levels (honestly, anything below calculus) at the community college. And it's worse this year than I've ever seen it before. Very very discouraging.

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The local community college catalog specifies TI's and I've never seen a TI cheaper than at the college bookstore except occasionally on sale at Wal-Mart. It's a moot point at our house; ds and dh both insist that Reverse Polish Notation is an absolute requirement for successful calculator use, so ds has two HP's; a scientific model for science exams and a graphing model for math classes which use calculators.

 

 

I hear you can get good deals at the pawn shops in town :)

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Here's a question:

 

If you enter pi/2 on the graphing calc, it will come out as 1.57 etc. whereas on the scientific one, it will stay as pi/2 and then it is easy to identify it.

 

Is there some way of keeping it as pi/2? Pressing the Fraction key doesn't not turn it back into pi/2...

 

Thanks,

Joan

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Here's a question:

 

If you enter pi/2 on the graphing calc, it will come out as 1.57 etc. whereas on the scientific one, it will stay as pi/2 and then it is easy to identify it.

 

Is there some way of keeping it as pi/2? Pressing the Fraction key doesn't not turn it back into pi/2...

 

Thanks,

Joan

 

It depends on the calculator. I know you can on the TI-89. I don't think you can on the TI-84 plus.

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HPs are a special class onto themselves. The people who love them will use nothing else.

 

My kids all start using dh and my old 15C's in 9th grade or so and then at some point they each acquire a 50g. Much to my surprise, my kids have been able to use the HP's in all situations where calculators are allowed. :)

 

It's good to hear that there are some other Reverse Polish nuts out there! :grouphug:

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This is a related but different question. Do those of you who have or have had children in algebra I, do you allow them to use calculators? So far, I have not, but I'm wondering if others do.

 

I teach what is effectively algebra I and II at the community college. We do allow calculators. My preference would be that students would have a solid foundation in basic arithmetic so it would be okay to use the calculator as a tool when solving word problems, to check answers to more complicated equations by evaluation, and to investigate behavior with tables or graphs or to see how exponential growth actually grows (for instance).

 

I'll probably let my son use a calculator and watch him to see if he's using it effectively. If I see him using the calculator to multiply two single digit numbers, he'll lose it for a long long time. (Many of my students can't do basic arithmetic without the calculator.)

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