Ian Wilson looks at two straightforward computer programs for algebra and graphs
GRAPHPLOT PLUS FOR WINDOWS Pounds 18 plus Pounds 3 pp from Northwest SEMERC, 1 Broadbent Road, Watersheddings, Oldham, OL1 4HU, Age range 5-14. This simple program allows the results of data collection to be easily and quickly displayed. The initial screen is divided into two: on one side the variables and their frequency are entered, the graph is displayed on the other. Data may be entered from the keyboard, or from an overlay keyboard like Concept.
A useful feature allows pupils to build up these frequencies by entering a piece of data such as their favourite colour. The program can be set to show how the graph changes with changes in the data, or the graph can be updated at the end of the entry.
Graphs are automatically re-scaled as necessary, and can handle decimals and negative numbers. Five formats are available: bar graphs and pie charts in either 2D or 3D, and a line graph. Since the program is designed for pupils up to key stage 3, there is no facility to draw histograms, so care must be taken if continuous data is involved.
The graphs can be printed with or without the data, and a simple button saves the graph to a clipboard for use with other programs. Some simple statistical functions can be accessed when a line graph is displayed, but it is annoying to see "average" used when what is meant is the mean average.
Some teachers will use the graphing facilities on spreadsheets for data collection and display, but if you want a separate, easy-to-use, graphing program, this is good value at a very reasonable price.