Two University at Buffalo faculty members, Gerald Rising and Deborah Moore-Russo, and Eileen Schoaff of Buffalo State College have written Program Your Calculator, a book that introduces programming with a TI-84 calculator through a series of interesting examples. The downloadable eBook edition sells for $9.95 at Barnes & Noble: www.BN.com The CD-ROM edition is available for purchase on eBay: www.eBay.com and in book stores.
James Easton, instructor at Erie Community College in Buffalo, New York, finds Program Your Calculator "a very useful text for both individual and classroom settings, especially at a time when programming is rarely taught in mathematics classes. Students gain much additional insight into mathematical concepts through simple programming and this book opens that opportunity to them. This doubles or triples the power of the calculator."
Professor Rising explains why he considers their book important: "Check any science lab or engineering workplace and you will find an extraordinary number of hand-held calculators in daily use, but too few users employ the programming power of their calculators. By programming them according to the instructions this text provides, they can make their tiny devices respond to the specific problems in which they are interested: solving complex equations, replicating experiments, modeling real world applications and creating exquisite graphs. This increases the power of the calculator significantly."
"Unfortunately, after a brief period when programming was a central part of the school mathematics curriculum, it is rarely taught today except in specialized computer science courses. In foreign countries like Germany and Japan the situation is quite different: calculator programming is widely taught and applied." Rising says he hopes Program Your Calculator will address our nation's deficiency: "Our book is a brief, straightforward presentation that can be used in school or college classrooms or by individual learners."
Asked for a simple example of a program he has written, Rising offered one he calls LOTTERY, which models the national MegaMillions lottery. It allows users to "buy" as many dollar tickets as they wish and see the probable outcome. "Running this program," he says, "shows in striking fashion what little return players receive from their 'investments.'"
The same author team has written a college mathematics textbook for liberal arts students, that is currently being considered for publication by the Mathematical Association of America. And Rising has written the popular, Inside Your Calculator , published by John Wiley and Sons, which explains the math behind the calculator functions.
The eBook is available from Barnes & Noble at www.BN.com search "Program Your Calculator."
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