What's the best calculator for a college Physics course?



#7

It's been a while for me. My son is now asking the question. Many thanks.

Edited: 7 Jan 2008, 2:00 p.m.


#8

What physics course(s)? And, will he be taking higher math courses, too (like calculus)?

For the first two or three semesters of intro physics courses (mechanics, E&M, modern physics), anything with scientific notation, trig, and exponential/log functions should be adequate. Square root and square are mighty convenient, too!

I used to teach both algebra- and calculus-based intro courses and I never used, nor expected my students to have, anything more complicated.

In the HP line, the new 35S should do nicely.

I took calculus back in the days lo-o-o-o-ng before calculators and managed quite handily. The fancier HP and TIs are apparantly thought to be almost necessary for such classes now, though. Others here can comment on that.

#9

Unless the college/professor/syllabus state otherwise, I agree with Dave that a basic scientific calculator is sufficient, and that the 35s would be a good choice.

Some math classes have a recommendation for a specific graphing calculator. Two years ago I took a Linear Algebra class for which the TI-85 or TI-86 were listed as a requirement. I used an HP 49g+ due to my preference for RPN, and it worked out fine. Because I wasn't using one of the recommended calculators, the professor was not able to help me with the calculator, but I didn't need any help. Actually the professor had a hard time helping students with the TI-86 due to his own unfamiliarity with that model.

#10

Quote:
What's the best calculator for a college Physics course?

That depends on the instructor. Some insist on graphing
calculators (sometimes a specific model). Others forbid
them during tests, allowing non-graphing models only.
Still others do not allow programmable calculators
(which would rule out the HP 35S mentioned above).


#11

I had a General Chemistry class in which graphing and programmable calculators were not allowed on tests. I used an HP-32E. I considered using a DIYRPN with all support for models other than the 32E removed, but I wasn't sure that I'd be able to convince the professor that it met her requirements.

#12

It has been 10 years for me now that I finished my degree in physics but at the time I found the units calculation ability of the 48 (now 50) series invaluable.

Arnaud


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