The secondary school maths curriculum includes a lot of different topics, like geometry, trigonometry, functions, maths analysis, graphing, square roots and many others. As students advance through their education, their classes become more difficult and they learn to solve more challenging problems.
What's important about maths is that we students study it progressively. For example, in kindergarten and primary school they are taught basic counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. They study mathematics using math flashcards, games and engaging exercises.
Once the student has mastered those simple operations, the curriculum will add something a bit more difficult, like power or square roots.
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If students are attentive in their classes, they'll progress smoothly and new exercises won't seem too difficult to them. However, for more challenging scientific topics they may need to add some new supplies to their shopping list.
Mathematics exercises can be particularly intricate from school onwards. Good equipment, like a calculator, can be especially important at that point to solve problems calmly.
Your maths teacher can give you a supply list for your school math course, or you can look for useful information in our article on the subject to find out about the absolute essentials.
In this article, we are going to look in detail at one of the key tools for learning mathematics and scientific subjects (aside from good motivation and diligence in your studies). That tool is the calculator and it can assist you in getting the highest rating at the end of the year.
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Why Use A Calculator?
As we advance through school, the math curriculum moves from simple arithmetics to more complex issues, such as theorem studies, functions, math, probability, set theory, statistics, topology, trigonometry and much more.
So, your maths course won't be about simple counting anymore. You'll need to focus on the formulas and analysis and the calculator will do the rest. You won't spend time on calculations you already know and be more efficient in your learning activities.
Calculators are an indispensable tool in mathematics classes. As soon as they were invented in the 1960s, students started to use them largely. The calculator can assist you in improving your numeracy and can be used to solve equations.
However, there are a lot of differences between calculators. Depending on the kind of calculator you choose, it can have particular features for certain exercises. So, let's look at what calculators students should invest in to get a powerful ally.
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Best calculators for school students
Aside from simple calculators, there are also scientific machines, as well as those used for business or, say, graphing. While using a calculator may sound simple, it's not easy to buy one.
To select the ideal calculator, you should first identify your objectives, then set a budget and compare the features of different models.
When you buy a calculator for school, you invest money in your education as it will serve you the whole time you study mathematics and scientific subjects. Let’s look at your options in more detail.
- Simple calculators are used for arithmetic operations, like adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying, as well as, sometimes, square roots.
- Business calculators add buttons for interest rates to these basic features.
- Scientific calculators take one more step forward, as they have features to work out physics, engineering, chemistry and other kinds of advanced exercises (they can even serve university students and professionals).
- Graphing calculators are similar to scientific calculators but they can also create graphs for the exercises you solve. Students can use them to solve calculus problems and matrices that are sometimes too difficult for scientific calculators.
The calculator you choose should be adapted for the mathematics syllabus. In secondary school, simple calculators should do, but at university, it may be useful for a student to invest in a scientific or graphic calculator.
Let's now have a look at the numerous function of the scientific calculator in more detail.
What the scientific calculator can do
The scientific calculator was developed to solve maths and scientific exercises. Students can input formulas and symbols and even solve equations. You may not understand all the buttons straight away but with time, it may start making sense.
Main features of a scientific calculator:
- It can carry out the main arithmetic operations, like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and square roots.
- Some more advanced features include algebraic, geometric and trigonometric calculations.
- Scientific calculators of different brands can have different sets of buttons, but most of them allow for adding pi, parentheses, exponents, trigonometric functions, inverses of trigonometric functions and log.
- These calculators also have a memory function to handle huge formulas. It is an essential function when you are working with several formulas or components at the same time and need to combine them.
The advantages of a graphing calculator
To select the best calculator for school, you must have an idea about what you'll use it for. Even though they may seem similar to one another there are plenty of calculating machines with different features.
There are a lot of tools to support kids studying maths.
If you are buying one for your maths course, you may have to choose a scientific calculator and a graphing calculator. If they aren't sure, students can ask for advice from their teacher or have a look at our article to discover all the essential characteristics of scientific and graphing calculators.
Both the scientific and graphing calculators support calculus operations. The difference is that a graphing calculator will not only solve a calculation but also generate a graph of it on the screen.
The exercises that can only be solved by a graphing calculator include integral calculus operations and matrices.
A graphing calculator is a more complex machine than a scientific calculator. As you can imagine, it is also a more expensive one, so you should see if you really need it.
Graphing calculators can, for example, serve professional mathematicians or students interested in taking up mathematics at university. Scientific calculators, by contract, are widely spread among both school and university students.
As they don't generate graphs, scientific calculators naturally have smaller screens.
The cheapest machines are, of course, simple calculators. If you are ready to invest in something more expensive, a scientific calculator may cost over $20 and a graphing one over $140. This is why you should make your choice carefully.
Some graphing calculators can be connected to the Internet. This function is rather uncommon in the other types of calculating machines.
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Should you spend a lot of money on calculators?
If you are aiming at scientific studies, it can be sensible to invest in a good calculating machine. The prices of scientific calculators can go from 20 AUD up to over 200 AUD. If you think of buying a cheap one, check that it has all the necessary features. A good brand you can trust is Casio.
The real challenge is not to buy something too advanced for your purposes or something too simple. In both cases, it would be a waste of money. What you need to know is what you'll do in class and if you are likely to continue studying mathematics after school or not.
Set a budget before you go to the shop. It is totally possible to unearth a good machine for a good price.
To make the most of our math course, we need to buy the right tools.
An important detail to keep in mind is that calculators use different kinds of batteries that also influence their price. For example, a rechargeable battery may help you make economies in the long term. However, make sure to recharge it if you have an important exam.
Where students can buy calculators
University-level machines can be purchased in most stationery shops. They are also available in supermarkets and on the internet. Some shops offer back-to-school deals at the start of the year, so it can be useful to check various places. You may also compare machines of different brands, such as Casio, Sharp or HP.
Also, you can cut good deals during sales periods. Sometimes, good models are sold at half the price, so you can save quite a lot of money and get a better tool.
If some of your relatives or friends have studied math or sciences, they may have a spare calculator from those years. Maybe, they could lend it to you if they don't use it. In this case, you wouldn't spend money at all and can familiarise yourself with the machine.
Similarly, if you need a powerful model and you can't afford it, you may want to check markets and fairs. You can even negotiate prices there.
There are also cheap calculators on the internet. Visit several websites at the start of the school year and you may come across interesting discounts. However, you should be careful when buying online and buy only trustworthy brands, like Casio or HP.
Even if a good calculating machine can be expensive, it is often worth it because you may need it for several years. Once you've mastered it, you'll feel happy about your investment.
In our other article, we focus on the equipment needed at high school.
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