Discussion:  Traffic Jam Applet tool 
Topic:  "Graphing Calculator" Software 
Related Item:  http://mathforum.org/mathtools/tool/10/ 
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Subject:  "Graphing Calculator" Software 
Author:  Gene 
Date:  Sep 6 2003 
The first software tool I introduce students to is Ron Avitzur's wonderful
computer program called "Graphing Calculator" ($60 from http://www.PacificT.com ,
with good deals on site licenses available). Math Tools will have something
about this soon.
I encourage students to use it for function graphing from Day One, and sometimes
have them print out and hand in their work. (I also work hard at getting them to
learn the applications of calculus to function graphing, but I really want them
to have graphics to help visualize early on.) I show the program in class and
suggest they just run the "Basic Demo" to learn how to use it.
Since we next get into limits, I asked what happens to y = (sin x)/x as x
approaches 0. We graphed it and zoomed in and there was some sentiment that (sin
0)/0 = 1. When you click on the point at (1,0) on the graph, the program gives
"not a number" for the function value, and I pointed out that you can't divide
by 0, which seemed to help set up the limits discussion.
We also graphed y = sin 1/x and zoomed in on that. It was pretty clear there's
no limit as x approaches 0.
This program will be used throughout the course.
 
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