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Re: calculators vs computer
Posted:
Apr 9, 1996 9:29 PM


Here is a little bit more information about the TI83 and Statistics Software.
First, here is some information on the TI83 for those who have not used it:
I just borrowed a TI83 from TI for two weeks. It is useful think of it as a TI82 PLUS expanded statistics and business functions. What I mean is that there is almost no learning curve to utilize it as a TI82. 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 splitscreen with graphs and data tables sidebyside,  larger matrices (10x10)
Since the price for the TI83 is comparable to the TI82 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 TI83 follows the order of operations while the TI82 had a quirk (TI83: 2>x, 2/2x = 2 TI82: 2>x, 2/2x = .5)
The TI83 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 TI83'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) 5476100 AlCoons@aol.com



