Tapping into mathematics

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# 8 Why a calculator?

## 8.1 Benefits of using a calculator

A calculator can help you learn mathematics – it is not a substitute for learning. In fact it can help you see the underlying mathematics in many ways, as in the previous section. Here are some other examples of how it can help you to learn mathematics:

• Instead of getting engrossed in performing long, sometimes tedious calculations, you can focus your attention on the problem you are trying to solve.

• You can work with more realistic and interesting examples, rather than having only over-simplified, artificial examples that can be solved by hand.

• You can see the results displayed more easily (especially if you have a graphics calculator).

• You can carry the calculator around with you where ever you study, more easily than most computers.

Here are some students’ reactions to using a graphics calculator.

The calculator makes calculations fun. You can see the calculation laid out on the screen, you can correct any mistakes easily, and it does complicated calculations so quickly.

I like the pictures and graphs – a picture means so much more to me than a formula.

I like to be able to store numbers, formulas and simple programs in the calculator and I am still amazed to discover that they are still there next time I turn on the calculator.

I like the layout of the keyboard, all the numbers together away from the more advanced keys.

It saves me so much time. I like to feel that I have all that power in my pocket!

All these students have their own favourite aspects of the calculator and, as you get to know yours, you will develop your own preferences. Some advantages of the TI-84 are given below, but as you work with the calculator you may well find other useful aspects to add to the list.

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