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Re: INNUMERACY, was Re: Use of Calculators

At 09:56 AM 2/25/97 -0800, you wrote:
No one has mentioned the most pervasive calculator error students make.
In their rush to punch numbers into their calculations they often forget
to use ther calculators' memories. It is commonplace to see a student
crank out an intermediate result in a problem, round it off and write it
down, and then punch in the rounded value later on in the problem.

Agreed. I try to tell my students to "do the physics first, then do the
arithmetic." Of course, I have objective evidence that they don't hear this

And, how many times has anybody seen students entering a number in
scientific notation incorrectly? (e.g. 8.99 X 10E9 instead of 8.99E9). A
source of endless frustration tracking down loose orders of magnitude in
solutions, especially if there is a subsequent square root!

Another peeve is that they often discard without reading the manual and then
expect me to show them everything the calculator does.

George Spagna **********************************************
Department of Physics * *
Randolph-Macon College * And so some day, *
P.O. Box 5005 * The mighty ramparts of the mighty universe *
Ashland, VA 23005-5505 * Ringed round with hostile force *
* Will yield and face decay *
phone: (804) 752-7344 * and come crumbling to ruin. *
FAX: (804) 752-4724 * - Lucretius, De Rerum Natura *
e-mail: **********************************************