I’ve learned this year, so far, that trigonometry is hard. My 16 year old Elvis brings home his homework, almost daily, and has sines, cosines, and tangents coming out the wazoo! (It ain’t pretty!) But it’s a challenge, and I encourage him. Read my article on the importance of math and science- and why I’m dedicated to raising nerds. (OK, Football loving nerds)
The basics of the Casio PRIZM
If you’re in the market for a graphing calculator, and looking at reviews, you probably already know that this device is permitted into AP, SAT I/II, PSAT/NMSQT and ACT tests ( I won’t lie -I don’t know what ALL of those are). So, it is SAFE to buy.
- Super Colorful 216x 384 pixel display
- Runs on AAA batteries (~140 hours average use)
- About 1/2 a pound
- CES 2011 Award Winning for Design and Engineering and Functionality
Sure, I got these from reading the box and the specs on the CASIO graphing calculator website. Nothing crazy here. But I’ve dug much deeper.
A few first hand reasons I like the Casio PRIZM
- Picture Plot Function
- Allow students to create equations based on the many photos in the PRIZMs memory
- Lets kids understand gravity, curves, and math applied to the real world.
- Textbook Display
- Not a new feature- but lets you see equations as they would in a text book, not long strings of numbers and symbols – see equation entry below for picture!
- No boot up time compared to competing color models (THIS IS HUGE!)
- Color Coded Brackets
- When entering equations with multiple sets of parentheses or brackets- the PRIZM color matches matching pairs
Impressions by a Mom running through the Quick Start Guide of the Casio PRIZM
Again, as mentioned in my “Moms must raise nerds” article, I try to take a serious interest in my kids’ education. And that, as crazy as it seems, has me learning a multitude of buttons on various devices just so I know whats going on, or can help. I found that doing this effort allowed me to understand the power of this tool in my teenagers hand (and how he can shortcut his homework) but also how I can help point him in the right direction for problem solving. For those following the blog- I was the nerdy girl in high school.
First off, you will find that this calculator is run in different MODES. Its honestly overwhelming for my brain that hasn’t taken a math class since 1989. But I found modes for a lot of different things- some of which are outlined in the short sections below. Because of the many buttons, and the fear of hitting the wrong one, I was pleasantly surprised that, even with all the modes, entry methods, and buttons, your work is rarely lost, and you can always go back to where you were if you hit the wrong button.
Regular Calculations Entry on the Casio PRIZM
I mentioned this above, and it is again, an ‘old’ feature, but being able to enter equations in text-book style – complete with big square root signs and super-scripted power signs- was a pleasant experience with this calculator. All of the basic buttons are to get various functions are right above the number pad- and likely easily memorized.
Because my son is in Trigonometry this year, I am already seeing homework in different degree ‘modes’, ie standard degrees, radian mode, and one or two others. Often times his ANSWERS are usually in the form of 3 times pi, or, pi/2, or what have you. Instead of harder to decipher answers like 6.28434266667, the Casio PRIZM keeps the answers and returns answers LIKE 2*pi. Really cool and easy to understand.
Statistics Mode on the Casio PRIZM
I am not a statistics girl, and never took a class for it in school. It was always foreign to me, but, since I am doing this review, I have to try out the Quick Start concepts in Statistics Mode! Surprisingly, it was very simple, and I almost understood it. First I had to enter a series of numbers (Something to base the stats on). The calculator easily transformed that list into, basically a bar or line chart, and showed a matching curve that represents the numbers. I know there’s a lot more than that, a lot a lot a lot, but, I was pleased to see that the cool stuff was easy to get to.
Note Taking Mode
Easily store away notes- for equations, or concepts, maybe locker combinations. Useful I suppose.
The Spreadsheet mode of the Casio PRIZM is surprisingly simple. The calculator acts as a pocket Excel in your hand. Although I wouldn’t balance my check book on the device- I could easily see running a complete lemonade stand under the sun with this calculator- and, color code expenses, versus profits, etc…
Graphing, Dynamic Graphing on the Casio PRIZM
OK- The reason the graphing calculator was invented- to show equations on a graph! Although I needed to use the quick start guide to figure out how to switch between graph mode and equation mode, I found equation entry intuitive. I found the method to find the ‘roots’ or zeros of equations intuitive, and I was impressed by the multiple colors for multiple graphs, the overlays of the text equations OVER the graph, and the system’s ability to show multiple variations of equations in an almost animated manner with their dynamic graphing option.
Equation Solver Mode
7=3X + xsin(x). Ya, crazy I know. But somebody has to figure it out! I am not sure WHY, anymore, but there’s a scientist or a mathematician somewhere who NEEDS to know the answer to “WHAT IS X!”. Well with the solver system, you can get the answer. Like a 1.75764 kind of an answer. Pretty cool. The fact that I was able to figure it out myself (once I figured out how to enter everything!) made me excited. This calculator is fairly simple to use.
Geometry Mode on the PRIZM calculator
The Prizm allows a student to draw geometric shapes on its screen. You can draw circles, and triangles, lines, and all sorts of fancy ‘snap to the nearest useful intersection’ functions to make the drawing useful to understand angles and what not. This ‘worked’ for me, but, because the screen is not 19″ wide, i kind of got lost in what i was seeing. I think there is room there for a patient high schooler with a thirst for knowledge to figure it out and use it to learn, but, it wouldn’t be the feature I would buy this device for. This feature seemed to require the most button presses. All said, this is THE SAME with other competing models that we have tried.
Picture Plot on the PRIZM from Casio
Picture Plot is different from the geometry mode. Being able to pull from a large number (I couldn’t / didn’t count) of pre-loaded images, a student can place points on the line (usually an arc of movement) and work with the calculator to identify the equation and the real world meaning behind the numbers. I can certainly see this being used in an application intensive math class- with a great math teacher. I was able to get this feature to work after one failed attempt with an odd shaped trumpet, and then a successful one with an arc in the roof of a building. This feature is definitely a good one for eager minds.
Overall Impression of the CASIO PRIZM compared to my generation
I have to admit, I had a CASIO graphing calculator when I went to Streetsboro High School in the late 80’s. So, however vague, the keyboard layout, and the setup of the keys seemed familiar (6 technology generations apart I am sure!) As one of the school nerds I recall being able to manage most all of the calculator functions for trigonometry, pre-calculus and calculus. This PRIZM calculator is much more intuitive than the 1988 model I used, and should be better able to allow kids with less gumption to get on board.
Is the Casio PRIZM worth buying?
Unlike some of the competitive products, the CASIO PRIZM device is straightforward, has every key clearly marked with all of the functions used in regular use, turns on instantly, and uses its color display in innovative ways that makes math easier to understand and read. I honestly recommend this device to any student of age or family thereof.
This was not a paid post. My own opinions were used based on my perceptions and experience. Thank you to Casio who provided the product to review.