(StatePoint) If you remember your teachers and parents telling you not to rely too heavily on calculators, you may be inclined to pass on the same mindset to your own children.
Here are some of the pros and cons to using calculators to master STEM subjects:
Adaptation to a Changing World: Tech tools are ever evolving, featuring expanded capabilities with each new update or model. Being able to successfully navigate these tools and platforms over time is critical, and calculators are no exception. In fact, in many math and science classrooms, calculators play a central role in lesson plans and are even allowed to be used during tests. Being able to comfortably use a calculator will give your child a leg up academically. What’s more, kids today are digital natives. Giving them a resource that feels familiar to them may help draw them closer to math.
Speed and accuracy: There is no doubt that actually understanding how calculations are arrived at is fundamental, and this means some initial learning will need to take place calculator-free. This is especially true when a student is first grasping basic arithmetic. However, once a student has attained a certain skill or understands the reasons why a particular equation is needed for a given problem, there is no need to deny them a tool they would have access to “in the real world.” Having a calculator on-hand can help them apply their knowledge, contributing to a broader understanding of math and enabling them to quickly check their work.
Expense and value: Calculators range widely in price, and you may balk at the price tag on some of today’s models. However, there are many high-quality options that can be obtained affordably. For the best value, consider a calculator that grows with your student, supporting learning over a number of years and grade levels. For example, the graphing calculators from Casio, have all the mathematical functions a student would need starting in grade school up through college. What’s more, the brand has created an online calculator tool, ClassPad.net, which features the same wide range of functions and can be used for free on any device.
Whether your student is working on the basics of addition and subtraction or is tackling integrals and derivatives, a calculator can be a trusty tool that supports their learning and success.