Scientific and Graphing Calculators Provide Relief to Students, Scientists, and Engineers

We use calculators routinely in our lives, usually for simple tasks such as managing checkbooks or determining loan payments. Scientists, engineers, and those studying higher mathematics, however, require more powerful calculators. For those individuals, devices such as scientific calculators are mandatory items in their work. More recently, graphing calculators emerged to offer these same individuals solutions that include visual representations in graphic formats.


Higher math requires high-powered calculating solutions. Even as engineers were fielding simple calculators in the early 1970s, they were already preparing more powerful devices, scientific calculators, for use by those whose routines include the need for quickly solving higher mathematic equations. This group includes students of higher mathematics, who now use scientific calculators in schools from mid-education through college. Perhaps more significantly, in the 1980s graphing calculators emerged to perform many of the same functions as scientific calculators, but expanded the calculator’s capabilities by providing visual graphs of the data to users. Both devices calculate at high levels, and both remain equally viable in the fields mentioned above.


Scientific calculators are usually mobile, but are also available as larger, desktop-style devices. They provide users with solutions to high mathematic problems in trigonometry, calculus, logarithms, and often include the capability to determine various statistics and binary functions. These are potent tools for engineers and scientists, but more importantly they’re approved – and even in some cases required – for students at all levels when taking standardized math and science tests. Scientific calculators are outstanding teaching aids for students just beginning to learn scientific formulas, and are the staple product still among all the various science and math fields and students.


An important breakthrough in calculators for higher mathematics was the development of graphing calculators in the 1980s. These devices perform somewhat like scientific calculators, but also allow for users to include variables, and to produce results in formatted graphs that the user can design. Obviously, graphing calculators are excellent for students learning specific mathematics such as algebra and geometry, as well as those studying certain sciences that require graphs, like earth sciences. To enhance certain graph styles, some of these units now come with color, and even interactive graphics. Typically, they also work well for people involved in research and analysis projects, as their output graphs can provide analysts with instantaneous visual charts of collected data.


Both scientific calculators and graphing calculators are high-powered devices that are, surprisingly, easy to operate. Naturally, the user must have some knowledge of the type of mathematics they’re performing on the calculators, but keyboard layouts have evolved since the first versions came out. Even on graphics calculators, which generally require more keyboard data entry by users, have streamlined user interfaces designed for ease of operator use.


The variety of calculator choices, especially high-powered scientific and graphing calculators, is sometimes extraordinary, as is the fact that so many quality-built devices are now available to us. We’ve incorporated simple calculator into our daily lives, but in schools, technology centers, and scientific laboratories, scientific and graphing calculators are not just options, they are absolute requirements.


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