
A screenshot of an Excel document 

Using
spreadsheets
A spreadsheet is a document that
contains information arranged into columns and rows. The
spreadsheet program (eg Microsoft Excel, Lotus 123) will do all
sorts of things to this information  analyse it, sort it, perform
calculations on it, present it in various formats and make charts
to help you understand it.
You can use spreadsheets for almost any
school subject  not just maths and science. For example, you can
use a spreadsheet to create tables of information in history or
geography, and then sort it in different ways  a table of
historical people could be sorted by date (forwards or backwards)
or alphabetically, or a table containing information about
different countries could be sorted by land area, population,
wealth and so on. You can combine sorting with filtering so that
the sheet hides or shows particular kinds of records. (In fact, you
can use the spreadsheet as a simple database, in which each row is
like an individual record.)
More advanced word processors will allow
you to use some of these features in a table. Alternatively you can
place a spreadsheet inside a
wordprocessed document  which is good if you are doing some
factual writing, in which you need to include spreadsheets and
charts. You can use the Insert menu to include any "object", such
as a spreadsheet or a chart.
Calculators on
your computer
Most personal computers have a
calculator program included free with the operating software. On a
PC with most Windows systems, it appears on the Programs menu,
under Accessories. On a Mac, look under the apple menu. If you open
the PC calculator and click on View you can choose whether to have
a simple calculator for basic arithmetic, or a scientific
calculator. This allows you to choose to work in different number
systems such as binary (base 2), octal (base 8) and hexadecimal
(base 16) as well as decimal (base 10) which we regard as the
"normal" number system. You can use Help to find out more 
especially the "tips and tricks". And you won't be short of decimal
places, either. Ask the calculator to divide 1 by 3. How many
places can you see? Or use the scientific view and ask it to
calculate pi. You can find more advanced calculators on the web. A
good search engine will show them.
How often have you reached for the
calculator in your pencil case, while you were working on your
computer? It may be good exercise, but you had one ready to use all
the time.
