Some mathematical operations are simple and to perform them you only need a mental calculation, a pencil and paper or a conventional calculator. However, certain more complex mathematical functions can be solved with a more advanced technology, the scientific calculator.

## General characteristics

These calculators incorporate the most common functions, such as addition, subtraction, division or multiplication. In this way it is possible to calculate percentages or proportions through a simple rule of three.

In their upper part, these calculators incorporate a series of keys with which you can perform different additional functions: operations with fractions, trigonometric functions, derived units, conversion between units (for example, from inches to centimeters), etc. In the case of performing operations with units of time, it is possible to add hours, minutes and seconds. It is also used in statistical functions, such as the mean or variance.

In the sphere of algebra there are also specific options (for example, linear or first degree equations). On the other hand, these devices already have certain constants of physics and chemistry incorporated and thanks to this it is possible to obtain their value.

This tool is commonly used in mathematical or physical procedures, as well as in all those disciplines associated with science. As is logical, it is a very useful device in the academic field. Currently, scientific calculators compete with other alternatives, such as web tools or mobile applications.

## Scientific calculators offer obvious advantages, but cannot be used without prior guidance

These devices provide two strategic advantages: they save a lot of time when performing operations and their multiple functions mean a significant reduction in mathematical calculations. However, to use them correctly it is necessary to use an adequate methodology.

## From an educational point of view

The use of scientific calculators in the academic field is an issue that generates some debate. For some, it is a valid tool but it should not replace the reasoning process. In this sense, many teachers defend its use as long as it is complemented by traditional explanations. In other words, it is a useful device when the user knows what operation he is performing. Like any other technological tool, this one makes sense when it supports the thought process.

Fotolia photos: Nokblacksheep/A2bb5s

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