## Software

This module's software application will be spreadsheets. Some of you may be familiar with spreadsheets so scanning this section may be more appropriate for you. Indeed spreadsheets was a topic back in PSI but sometimes we need a refresher or we need to see other ways it could be used.

## SpreadsheetsBackgroundSpreadsheets are designed to solve problems involving numbers but don't think that Math is the only subject that can use spreadsheets - Social Studies and Science are also prime candidates for this tool. What if you are a Language Arts major? Well it may not fit in well with the Language Arts curriculum but it is still worth looking at because it might be of value in your professional activities - e.g. you decide to hold a pizza party and are unsure of how many pizzas to order (see the example below). Spreadsheet research - why this module might be important:The instructor recently did some research in a local high school and presented problems to students. One of the questions was almost impossible to solve without using a spreadsheet and the wording of the question almost described a spreadsheet verbatim. How many students do you think attempted to use the spreadsheet to solve the problem? Here are the demographics: number of high school students (n=31 volunteers) • 14 female 17 male • 12 - grade ten • 8 - grade eleven • 11 - grade twelve Number of students using a spreadsheet = 2 (only one was able to solve the problem) Number of students who did not even consider a spreadsheet = 29 students Here is the odd part of the results: Number of students who claimed they had experience with Spreadsheets was 30 out of 31. There a number of interesting questions that come out of these results but one clear conclusion is that when presented with a question that clearly suggested a spreadsheet, almost none of the students even thought to use it. This demonstrates a huge gap between what they claim to know and what they were actually able to use. Are spreadsheets a forgotten tool? ## IntroductionThose who are already familiar with spreadsheets should skip to the
Case Study section. Spreadsheets are great applications if the problem you are dealing with involves numbers. What follows is an introduction to spreadsheets. The basic concept and operation of most spreadsheets is almost identical so once you are comfortable with one it is fairly easy to make the transition to another. It is recommended that you open up a spreadsheet program in another window and follow the tutorial along in a step wise manner. Spreadsheets are programs that are good for doing calculations on rows and columns of numbers. Their primary purpose is for number crunching although they are frequently used for graphing. A spreadsheet is a matrix of cells. A sample sheet is displayed below, see Figure 1. Figure 1. Basic Spreadsheet
Each cell in the matrix can contain information the user enters, not so unlike the movie. The matrix is made of rows and columns. The columns are labeled with letters and the rows with numbers. Each cell has a unique address that is based on a coordinate system where the row and columns intersect. For instance the top left cell is labeled A1. The cell to right and one row down would be cell B2 and so forth. A spreadsheet can contain a variety of information, which includes, labels (text), numbers, formulas, and functions. To enter information into a cell click on the cell and type in the information. Pressing the Return key (on your keyboard) will enter that information into the cell. It is a bit disorienting for those who are expecting to seeing the information appear directly into the cell as it is being typed (MS Excel doesn't have this problem). LabelsFor instance you can type labels by typing words into a cell, play the animation below for an example (although the examples are in old Mac spreadsheet - Excel is almost identical). |
## Spreadsheet ToolsSpreadsheet tools can be used as problem solving to represent ideas or concepts visually. There are too many spreadsheet tools to list but here are few popular ones:
2-D imaging software applications:- Excel
- Numbers (Apple)
- Googledocs Spreadsheet
Tutorials:- Microsoft Excel Video Tutorial for Beginners #1
- Microsoft Excel Video Tutorials
- Excel Tutorial
- Another Spreadsheet Tutorial
## Case StudiesHalloween ActivityOkay here is a Halloween activity I came across that involves . To answer the question:spreadsheetsThis might be a fun problem solving activity to do with your students at Halloween. Problem solving with Spreadsheets (not for credit)Here is a problem: Three fathers - Pete, John, and Nick - have between them a total of 15 children of which 9 are boys. Pete has 3 girls and John has the same number of boys. John has 1 more child than Pete who has 4 children. Nick has 4 more boys than girls and same number of girls as Pete has boys. How many boys each do Nick and Pete have? How would you solve this problem? Solve this problem using a spreadsheet. Work through this without looking below... give it some thought before seeing a possible solution below. | | | | | | | | Using a spreadsheet I put in formulas that replaced the missing information based on the relationships described in the problem. When the given numbers were plugged in, the sheet automatically calculated the solution. Here are two versions of the same spreadsheet, the top one shows the results, the bottom one displays the hidden formulas. See Figure 2. Figure 2. Spreadsheet Solution
It would be interesting to know if someone used a different approach to solving this problem. Often there is more than one way to do things. Check out the alternative strategies students used on this problem from previous years. There was no compulsion to use technology so most of them didn't even consider using a spreadsheet. Last but not least here are a few great sites that will give you ideas on how to solve problems with spreadsheets in the curriculum: |