Eileen Abrahamson (email@example.com) modified her reply to:
>No, actually it would not. The students begin to recognize the "patterns" >that occur during the conversion, and the relationships of the numbers, >their similarity, relative size, and what happens when a fractions grows - >ie. 1/3, 2/3, etc. This only occurs while the students 'play' with the >concept and pose personal queries, and hypothesis that they then test.
I agree that the students can pose personal questions to the calculator as a means of inquiry, but they could do this long-hand too (although this would be done later than the fourth grade).
>Posting a chart of conversions from fractions to decimals would be about as >effective as that good old PERIODIC TABLE was is chart form.
Funny that you should mention this as we have a periodic table of elements in our son's bedroom. We're going through what would be a high school chemistry text (it's actually an O-level book for folks familiar with the UK system). He's quite excited about the material in the book as it explains the properties of everything around him. After learning about atoms, he was excited to see that many things he know about were in the periodic table.
When he learned about molecules, he was excited and would run back and forth to the table to check on the composition of common molecules.
Then he learned about electron shells and why atoms combine and he was excited because he could look at the electron shell numbers in the periodic table. BTW, we started when he was five and he's six now.