Mini-Math Lessons – Middle School Equivalent Expressions and Exponential Expressions-fx-991Scientific

If we are thinking about equity and getting technology in the hands of students, scientific calculators are powerful tools that can support math discovery and exploration (except graph, though the fx-991EX even does that!) and are really inexpensive (between $10 – $20). This week I am going to be showing some of the capabilities of scientific calculators that I don’t think many people realize they can do – i.e. equations, expressions, inequalities, and statistics.

Today I am going to share two¬† activities that utilize the fx-300ESPlus2, though you could use these with any scientific calculator from Casio (or graphing for that matter). Both these activities focus on expressions with a goal of understanding what expressions are, equivalent expressions, the role of variables. The first activity, It’s All the Same, is about using properties of operations (associative, commutative, distributive) to explore equivalent expressions. The calculator is used as a verification tool, where students use stored values for given variables that then allow them to check that different expressions yield the same result. The second activity, The Variable Game, focuses on exponential expressions, and helping students apply properties and write exponential expressions with given parameters. They use the calculator to store variable values and then use these as either the base or the exponent to try to create expressions that fit specific criteria. This allows them to get a better understanding about exponential rules and working with whole number exponents and bases. Both activities, as you will see, include standards, warm-up exploration questions, suggestions for student discussion and ways to extend. Each activity has an application and then some practice problems.

Here are the links to the two activities and a video overview that goes through some of the functionality of the fx-300ESPlus2 that is needed in the activities.

  1. It’s All the Same
  2. The Variable Game


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