Graphing Calculators

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ataloss
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Graphing Calculators

Post by ataloss » Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:44 pm

Are these really necessary for HS students? They are pretty expensive and there are online emulators. On the other hand I don't want to put my student at a disadvantage. I am sure this has been covered before but I couldn't find it. Probably poor searching on my part.

dailybagel
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by dailybagel » Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:58 pm

What class? Is it specified for in-class "labs," or for homework?

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rustymutt
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by rustymutt » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:03 pm

Yes, I had to buy one for my son as a Jr in HS. I bought him the one the instructor recommended. I bought it used at Amazon.com, and wasn't disappointed.
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JupiterJones
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by JupiterJones » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:37 pm

Yes, you can programs that do pretty much the same thing on your laptop or smartphone or tablet. But I'm guessing they let you use these graphing calculators on tests, whereas they wouldn't let you use a full-fledged computer/phone/etc., for obvious reasons. So in that regard, I guess they're pretty necessary still.

I agree with the post about getting one used. Amazon, Craigslist, etc., would be the way to go.

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Jerilynn
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by Jerilynn » Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:02 pm

ataloss wrote:Are these really necessary for HS students? They are pretty expensive and there are online emulators. On the other hand I don't want to put my student at a disadvantage. I am sure this has been covered before but I couldn't find it. Probably poor searching on my part.
Yep. I have 2 sons in HS right now and they both use these things. Also, many of them are approved for use on the ACT.
The school has them available for in-school use, but both use them quite a bit for homework, so they bought one. This is the current one they use:

http://www.amazon.com/Texas-Instruments ... calculator
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Xanadu
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by Xanadu » Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:06 pm

I still use the same graphing calculator almost every day for my job that I got in high school 12 years ago. It has served me well over the years.

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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by 22twain » Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:46 pm

At the college where I work, the TI-84 series is the math department's "official" calculator for their calculus and lower-level math courses. They use the graphing capabilities extensively, and faculty are prepared (at least in principle) to help students learn how to use those particular models. Students can use other models if they insist, but they're on their own for support. Other departments like chemistry, physics and psychology also tend to know more about the TI-84s than other models, and take advantage of the graphing features, simply because most students have them and bring them to labs and use them for homework. I use a TI-84 Plus Silver at work for that reason, although I use an old non-graphing HP-11C at home.
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Riprap
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by Riprap » Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:48 pm

I still use an HP-41CV calculator originally purchased in 1979 almost daily. Graphing...well that was what graph paper was for.

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brianH
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by brianH » Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:34 am

If you are going with a TI calc, welcome to one of the most obvious extortion schemes in education. The TI calcs are probably $5 worth of materials but sell for close to $100.

That said, I've had my TI-85 since high school, and I still use it fairly frequently for work (computer programmer.) It's sitting 3 inches away from my keyboard as I type this message.

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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by Dealmaster00 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:41 am

I recommend getting a calculator for your student - they won't always have access to an online emulator during class or a test. The ti-83 is pretty decent (i used this for the majority of high school) and can be had dirt cheap (I've seen as cheap as $10 used, $30 new, normal retail asking price was $100 so don't pay that much.). If you can afford it the ti-89 series is significantly better and definitely helped me understand some calculus/advanced calc topics quicker in HS.

wilked
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by wilked » Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:54 am

I still have my TI-85 from Junior High. Still use it daily, it is a fixture on my desk at work.

Anyway, buy the kid the calculator, but buy it used (these things are durable as all hell)

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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by 22twain » Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:31 am

Walt in AZ wrote:I still use an HP-41CV calculator originally purchased in 1979 almost daily.
I remember drooling over the HP-41 when I was in grad school, but it cost a lot compared to my stipend so I stuck with the HP-21 that I bought during the first year of grad school. Finally the LED display on the 21 died (or whatever those illuminated red numerals were) and I got my first HP-11C. I lost that one and I bought a second one, probably a couple of years before it was discontinued. I'm still using it about 25 years later.

I recently bought an HP-50g because it was on sale at Best Buy, but I'm nowhere near figuring out all its capabilities and the 11C is smaller and easier to pull out of the desk drawer when I need it.
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ThatGuy
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by ThatGuy » Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:51 am

Does the school 'teach' on the graphing calculator? I remember back in the day that my teachers had a special TI machine that they could hook up to the overhead projector, and show us how to graph that equation. If it's going to be a portion of the curriculum, then you should buy a graphing calculator, and buy the one that they're using in school.

However, if they're not teaching to the calculator, I wouldn't bother. I never used my TI for anything other than the examples the teacher taught us. Then, later, I upgraded to an HP 50g. That was heaven, a large screen calculator with RPN! Once you go RPN, you never go back.

Nowadays, all my quick calculations are done in Python, or Excel. I still have my 50g, with usable batteries, but I'm not sure why.
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Kuckie
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by Kuckie » Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:39 pm

If you are going with a TI calc, welcome to one of the most obvious extortion schemes in education. The TI calcs are probably $5 worth of materials but sell for close to $100.
That is true. While the processing power of computers has doubled every 18 months, per Moore’s law, and prices have steadily declined, the processing power of calculators (TI, HP, Casio, etc.) has remained constant and so have prices. A new TI 83 or 84 costs the same now as one did 10 years ago.
Since the TI 83 or 84 is recommended in most schools for advanced math courses it is best if the student uses whatever is being recommended.

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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by hicabob » Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:57 pm

Kuckie wrote:
If you are going with a TI calc, welcome to one of the most obvious extortion schemes in education. The TI calcs are probably $5 worth of materials but sell for close to $100.
That is true. While the processing power of computers has doubled every 18 months, per Moore’s law, and prices have steadily declined, the processing power of calculators (TI, HP, Casio, etc.) has remained constant and so have prices. A new TI 83 or 84 costs the same now as one did 10 years ago.
Since the TI 83 or 84 is recommended in most schools for advanced math courses it is best if the student uses whatever is being recommended.
More than $5 - it's a fine calculator with decent buttons, an OK screen and some very nice software inside. If you think it's so overpriced make a nicer one for <$100 and show them!
People always gripe about paying for software. :(

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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by DEBTINATOR » Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:28 pm

I used the TI-89 in high school. It's the best available graphing calculator allowed on the SAT and ACT exams. I have also tutored for the SAT as a side job for 2 years. I scored a perfect 800 on the math exam and I believe at least a small portion of that was due to the UI of the TI-89 (super fast improper fractions and exponents).

Most people agree with some form of prep-work for the standardized tests as the return can be substantial. As a former math nerd I would highly recommend you don't overlook the graphing calculator and consider the upside.

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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by magicmom » Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:47 am

Yes and get a good one. My son not only uses his in math classes but also in physics and science courses as well.

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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by texasdiver » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:04 pm

Talk to the math teachers and see if they need the graphing capacity.

I teach HS physics and most schools buy the TI-80 series for classroom sets because they are bulletproof and have easily replaceable AAA batteries (which is why they are thicker than the thin calculators that take watch batteries). However in basic physics classes we never bother with the graphing capacities. In fact the only scientific functions that we us are basic trig functions, logs, and exponents. More advanced math classes and AP physics classes might use these more extensively. I tell the kids in my class they only need to get the cheap $8 TI-30 series scientific calculators unless they are in math classes that require something more. But I rarely get the kids who are on the AP Physics & AP Calculus track.

If you want to pick up a TI-84 cheap you might want to stop at a few pawn shops. Kids sell them there when they don't want them anymore. At least they do around here.

PS, the reason most schools recommend the TI calculators over say Sharp or Casio is because most teachers have TI calculators and know from muscle memory what series of keystrokes is required for every operation. And where the keys are for that matter (especially the 2nd option keys). So we can put the calculator under the document camera and show the kids how to do something. When a kid has a Casio or Sharp I just groan because many of the operations require keystrokes in different order and the keys aren't where I'm used to finding them. For smart kids this is no problem but most of the kids I have in class are not that smart.

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ataloss
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by ataloss » Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:06 pm

Thanks all. Although I am old school and like graph paper TI 30 series calculators and excel. I'll go ahead and get the expensive calculator. The school uses the TI84 plus so that is what I am looking for. Many of the used ones lack the data cable. Is that important? The cable itself can cost $20. In my initial shopping I wasn't seeing great bargains on the TI 83. I did look at the ACT calculator policy. Either can be used but the test is designed to be taken without a calculator.

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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by patrick » Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:25 pm

Kuckie wrote:
If you are going with a TI calc, welcome to one of the most obvious extortion schemes in education. The TI calcs are probably $5 worth of materials but sell for close to $100.
That is true. While the processing power of computers has doubled every 18 months, per Moore’s law, and prices have steadily declined, the processing power of calculators (TI, HP, Casio, etc.) has remained constant and so have prices. A new TI 83 or 84 costs the same now as one did 10 years ago.
Since the TI 83 or 84 is recommended in most schools for advanced math courses it is best if the student uses whatever is being recommended.
The processing power has not stayed the same. Even the TI-84 Plus (which looks almost the same as the old TI-83) has about 2.5 times the processing speed of the old TI-83. And the newer generation of calculators (Casio Prizm, TI NSpire) are much faster still.

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Jerilynn
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by Jerilynn » Sat Sep 15, 2012 1:50 am

texasdiver wrote: I tell the kids in my class they only need to get the cheap $8 TI-30 series scientific calculators
$5.95 @ amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Texas-Instruments ... words=ti30
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by jpsfranks » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:01 am

Dealmaster00 wrote:I recommend getting a calculator for your student - they won't always have access to an online emulator during class or a test. The ti-83 is pretty decent (i used this for the majority of high school) and can be had dirt cheap (I've seen as cheap as $10 used, $30 new, normal retail asking price was $100 so don't pay that much.). If you can afford it the ti-89 series is significantly better and definitely helped me understand some calculus/advanced calc topics quicker in HS.
I had a TI-89 for a while. I recall being amazed that it could evaluate indefinite integrals (+C). However I always preferred my TI-86. It probably had something to do with the availability of an excellent Tetris port (I don't imagine kids today would find gaming on their calculator all that compelling). I still have the 86 and it works great except that the cover has long since become too loose to click closed. These days I just use this on my phone on the rare occasion I need it:
http://dougmelton.com/android/andie-graph/

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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by texasdiver » Sat Sep 15, 2012 6:09 pm

Jerilynn wrote:
texasdiver wrote: I tell the kids in my class they only need to get the cheap $8 TI-30 series scientific calculators
$5.95 @ amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Texas-Instruments ... words=ti30
Yes, but I recommend they pay the extra $3 or so and get the solar powered version so they don't have to ever change batteries. These TI-30 series calculators come with those wafer watch batteries and require mini-screwdrivers to open. The cost of a replacement battery is more than the price difference to upgrade to the solar model and never have to change batteries.

Most kids don't get calculators at Amazon, they just pick them up at Wal-Mart, Target, Office Depot or wherever they are getting their school supplies. A TI-30 series calculator costs about the same as a 3-ring binder or fancy set of colored pencils. No big deal. Yes the big heavy TI-80 series calculators are cool but they cost over $100. If they school is really going to take advantage of the graphing capacity then fine. But if all teachers are going to use them for is basic trig then they are a waste of money. Oh yes...the kids still do play tetris on them and other games.

Note: I do teach lots of graphing in my physics classes. But we use graph paper or computers. When we are graphing data collected with Vernier probeware (motion detectors etc) we use the Vernier graphing software on the PCs in my lab. If the kids are manually entering data to make graphs we just use Excel. It's just too tedious to enter data by hand into calculators and the results can't easily be printed and turned in. The graphing calculators are fine for graphing math functions. But are tedious and inferior to computers for graphing data sets that students collect in the lab.

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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by joppy » Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:24 pm

If your HS student is serious about graphing, I would suggesting downloading Octave on the computer for them and teaching him/her how to use it to generate plots.

For example, the following commands plot x^2 from -10 to 10 in steps of 2.
x = -10:2:10;
y = x.*x;
plot(x,y);

Yes, a calculator is probably necessary, and do check if it is needed for standardized tests, but understanding how to generate graphs in Octave will likely give the student a good understanding of what they are graphing.

Cheers,
Joppy

PS: Octave is the free open-source clone of Matlab. It is not as polished as Matlab. Or you can spring for the $100(?) student license of Matlab.

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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by Kosmo » Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:38 pm

I used a TI-89 from high school through grad school. In high school, they taught us how to use some of the advanced features on the TI-8x series. In college and grad school, on exams (math/science/engineering) we weren't allowed to use any electronic devices that had a qwerty keyboard, so an 89 was the highest powered device allowed. I think one of the huge benefits of the higher end graphing calculators is the "true type" display which shows equations and calculations as you'd write them on paper instead of in linear format with lots of parentheses, carets, etc. This is especially true with long and/or calculus-based equations.

I'd say if the school or a specific class requires it, then go for it. Otherwise, it's a nice to have. Advantageous?- only if you know how to use (and understand!) the advanced features. Disadvantageous if you don't have one?- Nope, a basic scientific calculator will do the trick 99% of the time.

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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by Dave_M » Sun Sep 16, 2012 12:24 pm

I used the TI-89 in high school. It's the best available graphing calculator allowed on the SAT and ACT exams.
I don't think the TI-89 is allowed on the ACT; it is allowed on SAT and PSAT/NMSQT.

Unless they changed it this year.

ThatGuy
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by ThatGuy » Sun Sep 16, 2012 1:15 pm

Dave_M wrote:I don't think the TI-89 is allowed on the ACT; it is allowed on SAT and PSAT/NMSQT.
SAT Acceptable Calculators wrote:The following are not allowed:

Calculators with QWERTY (typewriter-like) keypads
Calculators that contain electronic dictionaries
Calculators with paper tape or printers
Calculators that "talk" or make noise
Calculators that require an electrical outlet
Cell phone calculators
Pocket organizers or personal digital assistants
Hand-held minicomputers, PowerBooks, or laptop computers
Electronic writing pads or pen-input and stylus-driven devices (the Sharp 9600-EL can be used without the stylus)
ACT Calculators wrote: These types of calculators are prohibited:

Texas Instruments: All model numbers that begin with TI-89 or TI-92
Hewlett-Packard: hp 48GII and all model numbers that begin with hp 40G or hp 49G
Casio: Algebra fx 2.0, ClassPad 300, and all model numbers that begin with CFX-9970G
calculators with built-in computer algebra systems
pocket organizers
handheld or laptop computers
electronic writing pads or pen-input devices—The Sharp EL 9600 is permitted.
calculators built into cellular phones or other electronic communication devices
calculators with a typewriter keypad (keys in QWERTY format)—Calculators with letter keys not in QWERTY format are permitted.
As shown, the 89 is not acceptable on the ACT. The HP 50G, which is more powerful, is allowed.

I'll reiterate that even as an engineering major, the ONLY time I ever used the graphing functionality was for instructor led examples. Involved number crunching or graphing was done on the computer, and during tests it was faster to do it by hand than type things into the TI.
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ataloss
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by ataloss » Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:11 pm

FWIW I got the TI 84 Plus Silver Edition at Walmart for $99 ($5 more than the regular TI 84 Plus) I think graph paper, excel, and a TI 30 series calculator would be fine but I don't want my kids to be at a real or perceived disadvantage. Non-TI calculators looked intriguing but I went with the one the school uses.

mschmitt
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by mschmitt » Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:03 am

These are the 3 calculators I've had over the last 20 years or so:


HP20s (~$40 in 1990), HP48GX (>$200 in 1992), OptimusV w/ HP48G emulator (~$150 2011)


Image

I don't remember ever using the HP48's graphing function for anything productive, even as an engineer student. But, the large screen was nice for other functions like matrices and equations.


I'm still amazed that the cost of these calculators is still so high. For the same price as a nice graphing calculator you can get a smart phone that has so much more functionality. Besides, I'm guessing most students already have a phone, so a graphing calculator is just one more thing to lug around.

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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by mschmitt » Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:10 am

dailybagel wrote: Obligatory: http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2582
:D
Kosmo wrote: Disadvantageous if you don't have one?- Nope, a basic scientific calculator will do the trick 99% of the time.
100% agree with this, especially for a high school student.

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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by bungalow10 » Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:50 am

brianH wrote:If you are going with a TI calc, welcome to one of the most obvious extortion schemes in education. The TI calcs are probably $5 worth of materials but sell for close to $100.
I don't know, those things are pretty durable. I don't know of any other electronics that are designed to take such a beating AND are so timeless and reliable in their function.

I had one (TI-85?) that I had to get in 8th grade. It lasted me well into college, when I sold it. I used to write programs for it, and we had wires we could use between calculators to copy programs or send messages to each other. Texting circa 1995 :)
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by BuckyBadger » Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:11 pm

I still have my TI-85 that I had to get for highschool in, um, 1995? Still use it daily. It's got about 7 different phone numbers etched it in in case I lost it -- my original home phone, then 4 dorm room numbers, then two more after-college numbers.

Still going strong!

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SamGamgee
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by SamGamgee » Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:52 pm

If I was a high school teacher I certainly wouldn't require them or allow them to be used on tests.

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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by bungalow10 » Tue Sep 18, 2012 1:25 pm

SamGamgee wrote:If I was a high school teacher I certainly wouldn't require them or allow them to be used on tests.
When I was in high school (many years ago), our text books were written to teach to the graphing calculator. They had several recommended models and then the lessons had instructions on how to incorporate the calculator.

My middle and high school math classes were geared towards kids expected to move onto college math (advanced calc, differential equations, etc) in which working knowledge of graphing calculators was expected.

Kids without the right equipment would not have made it very far in these classes.
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SamGamgee
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by SamGamgee » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:20 pm

bungalow10 wrote:
SamGamgee wrote:If I was a high school teacher I certainly wouldn't require them or allow them to be used on tests.
When I was in high school (many years ago), our text books were written to teach to the graphing calculator. They had several recommended models and then the lessons had instructions on how to incorporate the calculator.

My middle and high school math classes were geared towards kids expected to move onto college math (advanced calc, differential equations, etc) in which working knowledge of graphing calculators was expected.

Kids without the right equipment would not have made it very far in these classes.
I'm not saying don't buy the calculator if that's the requirement. But I think it's a mistake to teach the classes that way. These subjects were taught without graphing calculators and they still can be. You just design problems that can be solved by hand. Calculators make kids lazy. They start using it like a crutch. Pretty soon they can't multiple 25 x 0 without it.

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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by bungalow10 » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:31 pm

SamGamgee wrote: I'm not saying don't buy the calculator if that's the requirement. But I think it's a mistake to teach the classes that way. These subjects were taught without graphing calculators and they still can be. You just design problems that can be solved by hand. Calculators make kids lazy. They start using it like a crutch. Pretty soon they can't multiple 25 x 0 without it.
If your kid has no math hopes beyond Algebra II or Pre-calc, then that would probably be fine.

I'm sure all the high school kids in AP Calc and AP Calc II would love to hear about how you think they are lazy :)
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EagertoLearnMore
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by EagertoLearnMore » Tue Sep 18, 2012 3:19 pm

When I purchased TI graphing calculator there were 2 options. One without software or interface to computer and the other which had it.
At the time, either was OK for the class, BUT in the future the graphing calculator was needed. So if you are planning to purchase one, get the one that works with the computer interface. BTW - on sale frequently at Staples, Amazon and Walmart. If your student is into science and math, it WILL be used for multiple courses.

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SamGamgee
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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by SamGamgee » Tue Sep 18, 2012 3:46 pm

bungalow10 wrote:
SamGamgee wrote: I'm not saying don't buy the calculator if that's the requirement. But I think it's a mistake to teach the classes that way. These subjects were taught without graphing calculators and they still can be. You just design problems that can be solved by hand. Calculators make kids lazy. They start using it like a crutch. Pretty soon they can't multiple 25 x 0 without it.
If your kid has no math hopes beyond Algebra II or Pre-calc, then that would probably be fine.

I'm sure all the high school kids in AP Calc and AP Calc II would love to hear about how you think they are lazy :)
As a former lazy calculus student, I stand by my words. :D

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Re: Graphing Calculators

Post by HurdyGurdy » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:38 pm

The ti84 you bought is a good choice. Those calculators have a nice Basic interpreter included; plenty of people started programming there. I wrote a lot of Stats algorithms on it. Later, if they want, they can buy themselves a ti89 or install an emulator on their smart phones.

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