YouTube educator shares his fx-CG50 tips and highlights - Casio Calculators

YouTube educator shares his fx-CG50 tips and highlights

Jun 2024 Medium Read: 5 Min

We like to showcase as many voices and contributors as we can on the Casio Education blog, from teachers and students to calculator experts, trainers and mathematicians.

Seb Bicen is a former secondary school teacher turned YouTube educator, who has been teaching maths since 2010. His YouTube channel has 57,000 subscribers and his videos regularly rack up tens of thousands of views.

When we heard that Seb was interested in sharing his thoughts on the value of calculators to enhance maths teaching and learning, we jumped at the chance to speak to him.

In this blog, Seb tells us about what he sees as some of the most powerful – and in some cases least-known – features of the fx-CG50, our most advanced graphic calculator.

Row operations in Run-Matrix mode

Seb was particularly keen to highlight the fx-CG50’s ability to perform row operations in Run-Matrix mode. He picked this out as a potential “game-changer” for teachers and students getting to grips with the simplex algorithm, part of the Decision Mathematics module for A-level Further Maths.

This is a good example of an area of maths that, on the surface, appears relatively simple. But when students come to execute the steps in the algorithm, the complex arithmetic and calculations involved make it easy for even the most capable mathematicians to drop marks.

Row operations on the fx-CG50 make it much quicker and easier to perform the calculations required for the simplex method. Students can then look at the bigger picture to ensure they fully understand what’s happening and can answer questions on this topic.

Seb noted that, in his experience, this is a feature that not enough people know about. When he showed it in a Zoom class he was teaching, the response from students was that it will transform how they approach these problems.

“The simplex algorithm is one of the hardest parts of Decision Maths, but as soon as you use the calculator to do the row operations, you’re not worrying about things like making a mistake with a negative sign, and you’re able to just think about the maths,” Seb said.

“That links to a broader point about using a calculator. It’s about reducing the cognitive load you’re carrying in your head and using the calculator to help you solve more complex problems, so you can concentrate on concepts and deeper thinking.”

Distribution mode

Seb also wanted to bring attention to the fx-CG50’s Distribution mode, a dedicated app for calculating and graphing probability distributions.

He said a key benefit of this mode is that it opens up an intuitive and highly visual approach to an area of the statistics element of A-level maths that students can find challenging.

When students produce a graph of a probability distribution, they will get instant visual confirmation of whether it’s discrete or continuous, for example.

The calculator also highlights ranges and values that are relevant, based on the data you’ve entered, and makes it easy for students to gauge the likelihood of certain outcomes based on the height of the lines on the graph.

“When students are studying the statistics part of A-level maths, having visual demonstrations of distributions really deepens their understanding of what is going on in a highly conceptual topic area,” Seb said.

“Without that visualisation, students can really struggle because looking purely at numbers can feel very abstract.”

If you’re using the fx-CG50 but don’t have access to Distribution mode, it may be because you’re running an operating system earlier than OS 3.6. You can download the latest OS update here.

Graphing and other essentials

As well as specialist functionality such as row operations in Run-Matrix and Distribution mode, Seb shared some of his thoughts on the broader benefits and features of the fx-CG50.

He said the large display comes in particularly useful for tasks like working with matrices, or performing chains of calculations where there could be a need to change variables or refer back to earlier results.

Graphing is another clear advantage of the calculator, and Seb put this into context with the example of plotting a tangent to a curve.

“When you plot a curve and then plot the straight line you’ve just calculated, you can see if they’re just touching as they should be and know if you’ve done the calculations correctly,” he explained.

“It’s really satisfying to visualise what all the algebra actually represents on a graph and to check your results.”

On the topic of adopting graphic calculators more generally, Seb acknowledged it can feel daunting at first, much like any technology, but the benefits of the more advanced functionality quickly become clear once you’ve grasped the basics.

This is particularly true for students, who naturally pick up new technologies quickly. They also have the most to gain from deeper understanding, higher levels of efficiency and being able to check their work, which are among the key benefits of using an advanced calculator.

You can hear much more from Seb on his YouTube channel, including his thoughts on the best features and applications of the fx-CG50.