### Essential Tools for Calculus and Algebra Courses

Submit to del.icio.us | digg it! | Submit to SlashdotI am finally finished! This last semester I completed my College Calculus I class (with an “A” might I add), which is my last math requirement for my major in Pharmacy. I don’t have to take anymore wretched math classes! Don’t get me wrong. There was a time when I enjoyed math … that was up until I enrolled in College Precalculus and Calculus I. There is one thing I learned from college math classes: Take a class with a few number of students. It sucks to be lost in a crowd. It’s much easier to get help when there are fewer people to compete with for the professor’s attention. I mean, my best math class was when I was the **only student**. Yeah, my high school was *that* small!

Looking back over my many years of higher learning in math, I can also think of a couple of tools that could have given me a better edge.

**Graphing Stamp**– Starting at middle school, you will always have to sketch a graph of an equation. I had a teacher who wanted us to literally cut and paste our graph paper to our spiral-bound assignment notebooks. What a waste of time! How much easier that would have been if we just bought these stamps! I’ve once used the graph stamp set from ETA/Cuisenaire, a site for home schoolers, and they were excellent. The biggest problem was finding a stamp pad that would fit its imprint. You can find these giant ink pad at most teacher stores.**Matrix Manipulation Program**– I’ve never really liked matrices. One little mistake in a cell will ruin an entire matrix operation! It would have been nice to have a way to check my answers with a matrix calculator before turning in my assignments!**Computer Algebra System**– Many newer calculators contain a function that solves single variable (and sometime double) variable polynomials. This would have saved me so much time when trying to find the “zeros” for a crazy equation like 3x^5+7x^4-5x^2+x-153=0.

If you’re still in a math class, I suggest you obtain these tools for this upcoming spring semester. Trust me, they will totally be worth it. You’ll thank me in the morning. 😉

BTW, on second thought. Calculus I is *not* my last class. I probably have to take pharmacy math in graduate school before I get my Doctorate in Pharmacy. 🙁

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Posted on Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

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