A typical mathematics curriculum for high school students is loaded with a diverse set of courses, such as geometry, mental arithmetic, probability, algebra, calculus, trigonometry, inequalities, relative numbers, fraction mixes, equation mixes, puzzles, quizzes, timed tests and more. Every mathematics course requires one important piece of maths equipment… the calculator.
Some teachers give their students a specific list of maths equipment and recommend the best calculator ahead of time. Other schools allow students to borrow calculators from their high school math department, however, maths equipment can often be in short supply.
If you’re a serious math learner with a desire to excel in math classroom activities and pursue mathematics after high school, it’s worthwhile to invest in a personal calculator.
Learn more about how to select the right maths equipment and how to choose a calculator for high school.
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Why Use A Calculator?
The high school math curriculum requires the use of a calculator to enable the learner to be more efficient in their learning activities. Using your smartphone just won’t cut it in high school-level math class.
Calculators have been an indispensable tool in mathematics classes since the 1960s when they were invented. The calculator supports mathematical literacy and can be used to solve complex equations where mental math falls short.
However, not all calculators are created equal, and so there are different types of calculators that serve to work for different functions. Of all of the maths education resources to invest in, the calculator is one of the most worthwhile.
Types Of Calculators For School
Scientific calculators, basic calculators, business calculators, graphing calculators. While the name calculator may sound simple, the purchasing of one is not.
The first step to choosing the ideal calculator is to identify what you want to use it for. Are you completing basic maths courses and not intending to pursue math at the university level? Or, are you hoping to become a math or science major who will use a calculator for years to come?
Next, set a budget and choose one according to your financial and educational goals. The purchase of a calculator for high school is a real investment that must serve you during your time studying mathematics. Let’s take a look at what’s on offer.
The Basic Calculator
A basic calculator is capable of adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying. Students in elementary school and junior high use a basic calculator to familiarize themselves with simple math.
The Business Calculator
A business calculator is for students who primarily employ mathematics in entry-level and advanced finance, accounting, economics, investment, statistics, and other business classes. This calculator is specially designed to calculate the time value of money and quickly determine interest rates.
The Scientific Calculator
In addition to solving basic math equations, a scientific calculator is equipped to work out chemistry, physics, engineering, and trigonometry problems. This is an excellent investment for students taking science courses in high school and intending to pursue a secondary-level degree in the same area.
The Graphing Calculator
A graphing calculator is one of the most advanced types of calculators. Its capabilities are similar to a scientific calculator, however, in addition to solving basic and complex equations, these machines have a larger screen capable of plotting math equations as a graph. It can also solve integral calculus and matrices where scientific calculators can not.
Your Ultimate Guide to The Scientific Calculator
The Scientific Calculator is a popular choice for high school math students because it is a multi-disciplinary device used for science and math courses.
This handheld calculator was invented to support maths, science and engineering problems. It is electronic and works using batteries which either need to be changed or recharged. You can input formulas, symbols and complex numbers.
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What Can The Scientific Calculator Do?
A scientific calculator is a highly sophisticated piece of technology and it reflects this in its unique capabilities. At a glance, a scientific calculator:
- Handles all basic numeracy functions such as addition and subtraction, multiplication and division.
- Completes advanced numerical functions such as algebraic, geometric, trigonometric calculations.
- Displays buttons for pi, parentheses, trigonometric functions, exponents, inverses of trigonometric functions, log and natural.
- Uses a memory function to record large parts of the mathematics formulae. Essential when you are working with formulas, geometric components or scientific notation.
The Scientific Calculator Vs Graphing Calculator
Is it better to invest in a scientific calculator or a graphing calculator? This is the first question you should as yourself before researching the marketplace for different calculator models. You can coordinate with your maths tutor or school teacher to ask which is most suitable for your plans. Or just read below to learn the basic differences between them.
Ask your math tutor for some guidance.
The scientific calculator and graphing calculator have the same capacity to perform advanced calculations. The graphing calculator has additional functionality to solve integral calculus and matrices by displaying equations in a visual graph.
As mentioned, graphing calculators offer more advanced features when compared to scientific calculators and are used by professional mathematicians or those studying to an advanced mathematical level. Scientific calculators, however, are used by everyone from college students to engineers.
Graphing calculators also come with Wi-Fi connectivity to perform equations, whereas most scientific calculators do not.
Scientific calculators have a smaller screen than graphing calculators.
The cost of a calculator varies. Many calculators can be purchased second-hand to save money. Generally, graphing calculators are more expensive due to their additional functionalities.
- Scientific calculator cost: $10 - $50
- Graphing calculator cost: $50 - $300
How Much Should You Spend On A Calculator?
The scientific calculator is worth the investment. Although scientific calculators can be purchases for as little as $10, it’s better to invest in a high-quality calculator to avoid device malfunctions. If you buy the cheapest options, you may lose money long-term when you have to replace the calculator.
Ask yourself the following questions before you decide how much to spend on your calculator:
- How long will you be using the calculator?
- Do you need a calculator that visualizes graph equations?
- Would you buy a calculator second-hand?
- What are you willing to spend on a high-quality calculator?
Understand that the style of the battery can vary the price so you should understand the choice between disposable battery or rechargeable battery calculators. Pro tip: always remember to replace or recharge your battery before an exam!
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Where To Buy Your Calculator?
High school calculators are available in electronic stores like Best Buy or office supply stores like Staples. Big box stores like Costco or Walmart may offer a selection of lower-priced calculators during back-to-school season.
The easiest way to find the best calculator is by searching and ordering online. Many online stores showcase reviews from other customers so you can read about the calculator’s functionality, performance and longevity from other students.
Don’t forget to look for your equipment during significant sale periods. Sales like Black Friday and end-of-summer sale events can save you a lot of money allowing you to either upgrade to a better model for half the price or just get two for one.
Ask family members and friends who have completed maths courses or graduated if you can borrow or buy their used calculator. You might get a free demonstration and other educational resources in the process.
Whichever calculator you choose it is better to invest in a good one which you will have time to learn to master. Also, you can then avoid having to pay for a new calculator at the beginning of your next level of higher education.
If you are looking for a school kit for a younger student please check out our blog on the Back to School supplies for kids studying maths.
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