To demonstrate the use of spreadsheets for analyzing change in explicitly defined functions through first differences.
This packet consists of four screen capture videos showing various simple features of spreadsheets.
An important topic in College Algebra and Precalculus is rate of change. We have lots of language for various ways of thinking about rate of change, including:
Graphing calculators are well set up for analyzing values of functions, but they are not so well set up for analyzing rates of change. In particular, an important tool for this is the idea of finite differences. This packet shows how to use a different tool-a computer spreadsheet-to analyze finite differences (in particular first and second differences).
Whether you use Microsoft Excel (and you probably do) or some other spreadsheet (such as Apple's Numbers or OpenOffice or Google Docs, etc.), the basic functions are all the same. Except for the precise appearance of the tools, I doubt there is any meaningful difference between what you'll see in these videos and what your computer will look like.
For the record, these videos show MS Excel on a Mac.
This video shows you how to set up your table to analyze first differences.
This video shows you the very simple process of copying and pasting your table from Excel into Word.
Once you have your first function set up, Copy, Paste and Fill will let you quickly create the next function without having to start from scratch. This video shows you how.