Learning about the Casio ClassPad 300

Wooden Calculator Calculators have evolved a great deal from their origin as simple counting devices, through to mechanical calculation aides (such as the abacus), to the first automatic devices (Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine), to where we stand now, with devices such as the Casio ClassPad 300.

The ClassPad is a CAS (computer algebra system) Calculator. This means that, unlike previous many types of previous calculators, the ClassPad can solve algebraic expressions in a logical, mathematical fashion. Previous types of calculators (including the TI-series (up to the 84+) could also solve many algebraic problems, but they used a method called “numerical approximation”, which is basically a fancy way of saying “guess-and-check”. Some of you may have already purchased a ClassPad for yourselves – the rest of you will have to if you intend to enrol in Mathematical Methods next year.

In some ways, it is not fair to call the ClassPad a calculator – it is much more like a small but powerful computer, Similar to a PDA. This power comes at a cost, just like the TI-8* calculators, it is confusing to learn how to use, at least initially. There are some websites to help you learn how to use you ClassPad (that are a lot more friendly than the manual linked to above). First is ClassPad.org – I particularly recommend the Downloads section, where you can find helpful documentation and utilities. Second is Canyon’s Corner which has a lot of guidance and explanation. The Learning section has a particularly good introductory guide, but there are many more training guides to be found. The best way to start learning how to use your ClassPad is to begin now – you don’t want to have to be learning how to use your calculator when you are trying to learn new Mathematics as well!

 Casio ClassPads are available in Melbourne from Haines Education and Calculator King (Map)

See you in class.

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