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Topic: Re: calculators vs computer
Replies: 0

 Al Coons Posts: 898 Registered: 12/4/04
Re: calculators vs computer
Posted: Apr 9, 1996 9:29 PM

Software.

First, here is some information on the TI-83 for those who have not used it:

I just borrowed a TI-83 from TI for two weeks. It is useful think of it as a
TI-82 PLUS expanded statistics and business functions. What I mean is that
there is almost no learning curve to utilize it as a TI-82. The layout is
almost identical to the 82 plus there are a few wonderful features that
extend the 82 in very nice and easy ways. For example:

- the name of the function which is being traced is displayed on the graph,
- easy and clear shading of a traced function and inequalities,
- does complex arithmetic if desired,
- a nice split-screen with graphs and data tables side-by-side,
- larger matrices (10x10)

Since the price for the TI-83 is comparable to the TI-82 we will require all
students buying calculators next year to buy 83's. A mixture of 82's and
83's will not be a problem for most mathematics classes. The one area of
possible confusion is that the TI-83 follows the order of operations while
the TI-82 had a quirk (TI-83: 2->x, 2/2x = 2 TI-82: 2->x, 2/2x = .5)

The TI-83 really shines as a statistics machine:

- The number of lists has been expanded and lists can be given names (titles
such as "time" or "height").
- Regression is much easier and residuals are generated automatically.
- A large menu of statistical tests is now included.

We will require all of our AP Stats students to purchase 83's for many of the
reasons listed in other messages. Another reason is that having the
required programs preloaded into a caculator makes life a great deal easier -
particularly on the AP. On the other hand, AP Stats will meet in a classroom
with computers with Minitab. Just last week I tried to compile a survey of
our 430 students' home computer facilities. While it only had about 8
questions, I ran out of space in the student version of Minitab! This
suggests to me that while we will do much of our work theoretical work on
TI-83's (with small data sets). The 83's limited capacity and incomplete
set of statistical functions will make a computer program invaluable -
particular for large projects. In fact, we are wondering if we will
required students to also have a copy of Minitab at home - we might rent them
a copy for a small annual fee if they do not want to buy Minitab outright).

------
Software comparisions:

Two years ago I did a comparision of the various Mac Statistical Packages
with student versions. While I probably was a bit biased since I had used
Minitab for a long time, I ended rating it highest for the following reasons:

- Can be run on many different platforms.
- Minitab on the Mac fits the Mac Methaphor well - in other words, it is
easy to use.
- Found I could not do some basic manipulations well on other, more
sophisticated packages. For instance, it was very hard to simulate the
sampling distribution of the sample mean on one package.
- Its manual was well written.
- Its sample data files were very useful.

I will add to this that many statistics books use Minitab in their examples.

------

Albert Coons
Chair, Instruction Technology Committee
Mathematics Department
Buckingham Browne & Nichols School
Cambridge, MA
(617) 547-6100
AlCoons@aol.com