Graphing calculators are an important learning tool for math instructors and for students, and these devices are steadily becoming more versatile. Over the last forty years, hand-held calculators have evolved from simple machines that could perform a few basic arithmetic operations, into small-but-powerful computers that have changed the way high-school and college students learn mathematics.
Because of these changes and looking to the continued growth of technology use in secondary and college education settings, we decided to add occasional reviews of classroom technology to the mix in Learning Solutions. This review of the latest Casio graphing calculator, model fx-CG10 (dubbed the “PRIZM”), is the first of these. The PRIZM became available earlier this month; Casio provided us with a loaner unit for this review (Figure 1), along with sample chapters from the Casio supplementary curriculum materials and other content to support the calculator.
Figure 1. The Casio PRIZM (fx-CG10) graphing calculator
Graphing in color
As you will have noticed in Figure 1, the PRIZM features a large (3.7”) backlit color LCD high-resolution (384x216) display. This is not a touch screen. The PRIZM uses Casio’s “Natural Textbook Display” technology that allows representation of formulas, graphs, and other images in true color in a way that looks like text and illustrations in a textbook, images from a Web browser, or those generated by software.
Casio makes good use of this display, beginning with the main menu (Figure 2). In addition to the 18 modes on the main menu (see Table 1), the calculator provides a number of color-enhanced functions that one or more of the modes support. For example, the user can manually assign specific colors to data in graphs, by variable or by range of values. One of the functions, Picture Plot, makes it possible for the user to plot graphs over curves and familiar shapes in real life (using dozens of pre-loaded pictures) in order to develop the equations that describe them. (See Figure 3.) The learner can then manipulate the variables to modify the curves and so better understand the mathematical meaning. The calculator software automatically color-codes parentheses during input and editing of calculation formulas – very helpful when entering complex examples. The user can color-code values in spreadsheets; when the user creates a chart or graph from the spreadsheet, the graph will use the same colors.
Figure 2. The Prizm features a large color LCD display. The main menu provides access to 15 applications, plus various utilities for the calculator.
Mode |
Use |
Run-Matrix |
Arithmetic calculations and function calculations; calculations involving binary, octal, decimal, and hexadecimal values and matrices. |
Statistics |
Perform single-variable (standard deviation) and paired-variable (regression) statistical calculations; perform tests; analyze data and draw statistical graphs. |
eActivity |
Input text, math expressions, and other data in a notebook-like interface; store text or formulas, or built-in application data in a file. |
Spreadsheet |
Perform spreadsheet calculations (26 columns x 999 lines); perform commands built into the calculator; perform Spreadsheet mode commands; perform statistical calculations and graph statistical data using the same procedures you use in the Statistics mode. |
Graph |
Store graph functions, and draw graphs using the functions |
Dyna Graph (Dynamic Graph) |
Store graph functions and draw multiple versions of a graph by changing the values assigned to the variables in a function. |
Table |
Store functions; generate a numeric table of different solutions as the values assigned to variables in a function change; draw graphs. |
Recursion |
Store recursion formulas; generate a numeric table of different solutions as the values assigned to variables in a function change; draw graphs. |
Conic Graphs |
Draw graphs of conic sections. |
Equation |
Solve linear equations with two through six unknowns, and high-order equations from second to sixth degree. |
Program |
Store programs in the program area; run programs. |
Financial |
Perform financial calculations; draw cash flow and other types of graphs. |
E-Con2 |
Control (optional) EA-200 Data Analyzer |
Link |
Transfer memory contents or backup data to another unit or PC |
Memory |
Manage data stored in memory |
System |
Initialize memory, adjust display brightness, make other system settings. |
Geometry |
Use this mode to draw and analyze geometric objects. |
Picture Plot |
Plot points (that represent coordinates) on the screen and perform various types of analysis based on the plotted data (coordinate values). |
Figure 3. The Casio Prizm (fx-CG10), using a built-in animation to explore mathematical forms in real-world events.
The PRIZM has 16MB of flash memory. It also offers a USB connection that allows transfer of data and images between calculators and with a desktop computer, and connection to Casio LCD projectors. The power supply is four AAA batteries, or an AC adapter (purchased separately). The calculator’s complete technical specifications are in Table 2 at the end of this article.
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