3.3 Task 2: Maths
The paragraphs numbered 1–7, below, are adapted from MU120 Unit 0, Preparing for open mathematics.
Please read through all seven paragraphs and choose a heading from the box which seems to sum up the theme of each paragraph in turn.
1 Why a calculator?
The course makes use of a calculator in order to help you to learn and understand the mathematics in the course – a calculator is not, as some people still seem to believe, a substitute for learning mathematics. In fact, using a calculator can enable you to see the underlying mathematics more readily in several ways.
Some advantages of the course calculator are given below, but as you work with the calculator you may find other useful aspects to add to your list.
The calculator takes the tedium out of long calculations with numbers that would be fearsome to do in your head or time-consuming to do with pencil and paper. For example, the calculator takes about the same time to multiply 123.57 by .598 as to do 2 x 2.
You can correct mistakes in the input for a calculation easily and investigate what happens if you change one number in the calculation, for example, the interest rate or the price of an article.
The calculator does not make mistakes in the way that human brains tend to do. Human fingers do, however, make mistakes sometimes; and the calculator may not be doing what you think you told it to do. So correcting errors and estimating the approximate size of answers are important skills in double-checking your calculator calculations. (Just as they are for checking calculations done in your head or on paper!)
The calculator retains numbers, formulas and programs which you have stored in it, even when it is turned off. You can recall them when you need them and so save time by not having to enter the same information again.
The calculator is very useful for ordinary arithmetic and yet it can also perform many functions commonly associated with a computer and deal with quite advanced mathematics. It is useful for both beginners and experts alike, because it has a variety of modes of operation.
The calculator is small and slips conveniently into a bag or pocket. You will be able to carry it around with you and use it unobtrusively as and when you want – perhaps in a shop, on a train or in a restaurant.