Sunday, March 29, 2009

Variables on the classpad

There has been some confusion about how to define variables on the classpad in my class. Here is what we have discovered.

If we use a variable found under the mth tab -> var on the soft keyboard (the variables that are italicised) it is treated as a normal pronumeral in algebraic equations (multiplication is assumed with adjacent pronumerals). The x,y,z on the keypad is also treated this way.

eg x = 10, y=20; therefore xy=200

The multiplication sign is automatically added.

If we name a variable using the abc tab in the soft keyboard(the variables that are not italicised) then we are naming a variable that has multiple letters.

eg xy =10; x & y are undefined.
m = rise ÷ run

Potential Gotcha!

We have to be careful not to confuse functions defined under the mth tab (eg. trig ratios) and variables that we have created when using NumSolve. One of my students entered this on their calculator.


It would return the fractional value adj÷hyp rather than the value for theta. This is because the student had defined a variable "Cosθ" by typing Cos via the soft keyboard rather than entering the function Cos via mth->trig->Cos.

Superscripts and Subscripts

Later on students will want to use subscripted characters when creating variable names. One example is the gradient formula.


The subscripts are found in the soft keyboard under abc->math at the bottom of the screen. Superscripts are on the line above it. Only numbers at this stage (more will be possible as more fonts are released) can be superscripted or subscripted as far as I can see.

Here is a link to other CAS calculator posts.

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