4.1.2 Calculator Exploration: Exponents

Some exponential operations are easy to carry out in our heads or on paper, and you will start to remember the more common ones the more you use them; others will be more efficiently done with a calculator. In the following exploration, you will find out how to use the calculator to calculate exponential values. The calculator can be accessed in the left-hand side bar under Toolkit.

Suppose you want to calculate . Do this on the calculator now; you should get 2401. This is fine, but as you have just seen, this calculation can be written more concisely as 74, and there is a quicker way of calculating it, too.

To work out an exponent on the calculator, we use the button (x raised to the power y). Find it on the calculator now. It is almost in the middle of the block of keys below the numbers. To calculate 74, you need to click on the following keys: Try it now, and check that you get the same answer, 2401.

When you have entered the numbers, but before you click on equals, the calculator looks like this: You will see that the sign used for ‘exponent’ is ^. This is called a “caret,” or sometimes, a “hat.” You’ll find it above the number 6 on your keyboard. So, to enter an exponent using your keyboard, use shift-6.

Mathematical operationCalculator buttonKeyboard key
Exponent Shift-6 (which gives ^)

Above the button is the button. This is a shortcut for finding the square of a number (the number times itself which is the same as the number raised to the power 2).

4.1.1 Expressions with Exponents

4.1 3 Further Investigation of Exponents on the Calculator