A spreadsheet is a computer
program that turns your computer screen into a smart piece of paper. It removes
much of the busy work associated with repetitive calculations and lets you
easily see the results of your work. In the studio sessions a spreadsheet
will help you examine and understand your experimental data. You can enter raw data
and manipulate and plot the data with a few simple commands.
What makes spreadsheets so useful?
- Whenever you change a number
or formula in a spreadsheet, everything else in the spreadsheet that depends on
that number or formula, including plots, is automatically updated. If you make
a mistake and have to re-measure a quantity or change a formula, all numbers
that depend on the quantity or formula are automatically updated.
- All your entries and
calculations are saved and displayed. This makes easier to understand your
data and spot potential mistakes.
- Spreadsheets can plot your
data in a variety ways.
- Spreadsheet can easily handle
the statistical analysis of data sets with a large number of data points.
The average value and the standard deviation are functions you will be
using. Excel can also perform least square
fits to a straight line (known as a linear regression) to find the slope
and the intercept.