Graphing Calculators
Graphing Calculators
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.

 Posts: 495
 Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:35 pm
Re: Graphing Calculators
What class? Is it specified for inclass "labs," or for homework?
Obligatory: http://www.smbccomics.com/?id=2582
Obligatory: http://www.smbccomics.com/?id=2582
Re: Graphing Calculators
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.
I'm amazed at the wealth of Knowledge others gather, and share over a lifetime of learning. The mind is truly unique. It's nice when we use it!
 JupiterJones
 Posts: 2815
 Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:25 pm
 Location: Nashville, TN
Re: Graphing Calculators
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 fullfledged 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.
JJ
I agree with the post about getting one used. Amazon, Craigslist, etc., would be the way to go.
JJ
Stay on target...
Re: Graphing Calculators
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.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.
The school has them available for inschool 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/TexasInstruments ... calculator
Cordially, Jeri . . . 100% all natural asset allocation. (no supernatural methods used)
Re: Graphing Calculators
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.
Re: Graphing Calculators
At the college where I work, the TI84 series is the math department's "official" calculator for their calculus and lowerlevel 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 TI84s 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 TI84 Plus Silver at work for that reason, although I use an old nongraphing HP11C at home.Jerilynn wrote:http://www.amazon.com/TexasInstruments ... calculator
My investing princiPLEs do not include absolutely preserving princiPAL.
Re: Graphing Calculators
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 TI85 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.
That said, I've had my TI85 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.

 Posts: 105
 Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:09 pm
Re: Graphing Calculators
I recommend getting a calculator for your student  they won't always have access to an online emulator during class or a test. The ti83 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 ti89 series is significantly better and definitely helped me understand some calculus/advanced calc topics quicker in HS.
Re: Graphing Calculators
I still have my TI85 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)
Anyway, buy the kid the calculator, but buy it used (these things are durable as all hell)
Re: Graphing Calculators
I remember drooling over the HP41 when I was in grad school, but it cost a lot compared to my stipend so I stuck with the HP21 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 HP11C. 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.Walt in AZ wrote:I still use an HP41CV calculator originally purchased in 1979 almost daily.
I recently bought an HP50g 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.
My investing princiPLEs do not include absolutely preserving princiPAL.
Re: Graphing Calculators
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.
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.
Work is the curse of the drinking class  Oscar Wilde
Re: Graphing Calculators
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.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.
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.
Re: Graphing Calculators
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!Kuckie wrote: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.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.
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.
People always gripe about paying for software.

 Posts: 103
 Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2011 8:05 pm
Re: Graphing Calculators
I used the TI89 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 TI89 (super fast improper fractions and exponents).
Most people agree with some form of prepwork 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.
Most people agree with some form of prepwork 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.
Re: Graphing Calculators
Yes and get a good one. My son not only uses his in math classes but also in physics and science courses as well.

 Posts: 3279
 Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:50 am
 Location: Vancouver WA
Re: Graphing Calculators
Talk to the math teachers and see if they need the graphing capacity.
I teach HS physics and most schools buy the TI80 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 TI30 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 TI84 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.
I teach HS physics and most schools buy the TI80 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 TI30 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 TI84 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.
Re: Graphing Calculators
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.
Re: Graphing Calculators
The processing power has not stayed the same. Even the TI84 Plus (which looks almost the same as the old TI83) has about 2.5 times the processing speed of the old TI83. And the newer generation of calculators (Casio Prizm, TI NSpire) are much faster still.Kuckie wrote: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.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.
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.
Re: Graphing Calculators
$5.95 @ amazon.texasdiver wrote: I tell the kids in my class they only need to get the cheap $8 TI30 series scientific calculators
http://www.amazon.com/TexasInstruments ... words=ti30
Cordially, Jeri . . . 100% all natural asset allocation. (no supernatural methods used)
Re: Graphing Calculators
I had a TI89 for a while. I recall being amazed that it could evaluate indefinite integrals (+C). However I always preferred my TI86. 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: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 ti83 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 ti89 series is significantly better and definitely helped me understand some calculus/advanced calc topics quicker in HS.
http://dougmelton.com/android/andiegraph/

 Posts: 3279
 Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:50 am
 Location: Vancouver WA
Re: Graphing Calculators
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 TI30 series calculators come with those wafer watch batteries and require miniscrewdrivers 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.Jerilynn wrote:$5.95 @ amazon.texasdiver wrote: I tell the kids in my class they only need to get the cheap $8 TI30 series scientific calculators
http://www.amazon.com/TexasInstruments ... words=ti30
Most kids don't get calculators at Amazon, they just pick them up at WalMart, Target, Office Depot or wherever they are getting their school supplies. A TI30 series calculator costs about the same as a 3ring binder or fancy set of colored pencils. No big deal. Yes the big heavy TI80 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.
Re: Graphing Calculators
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 opensource clone of Matlab. It is not as polished as Matlab. Or you can spring for the $100(?) student license of Matlab.
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 opensource clone of Matlab. It is not as polished as Matlab. Or you can spring for the $100(?) student license of Matlab.
Re: Graphing Calculators
I used a TI89 from high school through grad school. In high school, they taught us how to use some of the advanced features on the TI8x 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 calculusbased 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.
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.
Re: Graphing Calculators
I don't think the TI89 is allowed on the ACT; it is allowed on SAT and PSAT/NMSQT.I used the TI89 in high school. It's the best available graphing calculator allowed on the SAT and ACT exams.
Unless they changed it this year.
Re: Graphing Calculators
Dave_M wrote:I don't think the TI89 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 (typewriterlike) 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
Handheld minicomputers, PowerBooks, or laptop computers
Electronic writing pads or peninput and stylusdriven devices (the Sharp 9600EL can be used without the stylus)
As shown, the 89 is not acceptable on the ACT. The HP 50G, which is more powerful, is allowed.ACT Calculators wrote: These types of calculators are prohibited:
Texas Instruments: All model numbers that begin with TI89 or TI92
HewlettPackard: 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 CFX9970G
calculators with builtin computer algebra systems
pocket organizers
handheld or laptop computers
electronic writing pads or peninput 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.
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.
Work is the curse of the drinking class  Oscar Wilde
Re: Graphing Calculators
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. NonTI calculators looked intriguing but I went with the one the school uses.
Re: Graphing Calculators
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)
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.
HP20s (~$40 in 1990), HP48GX (>$200 in 1992), OptimusV w/ HP48G emulator (~$150 2011)
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.
Re: Graphing Calculators
dailybagel wrote: Obligatory: http://www.smbccomics.com/?id=2582
100% agree with this, especially for a high school student.Kosmo wrote: Disadvantageous if you don't have one? Nope, a basic scientific calculator will do the trick 99% of the time.

 Posts: 2270
 Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2011 6:28 am
 Location: Chicago North Shore
Re: Graphing Calculators
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.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 had one (TI85?) 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
An elephant for a dime is only a good deal if you need an elephant and have a dime.

 Posts: 1054
 Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:28 am
Re: Graphing Calculators
I still have my TI85 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 aftercollege numbers.
Still going strong!
Still going strong!
Re: Graphing Calculators
If I was a high school teacher I certainly wouldn't require them or allow them to be used on tests.

 Posts: 2270
 Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2011 6:28 am
 Location: Chicago North Shore
Re: Graphing Calculators
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.SamGamgee wrote:If I was a high school teacher I certainly wouldn't require them or allow them to be used on tests.
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.
An elephant for a dime is only a good deal if you need an elephant and have a dime.
Re: Graphing Calculators
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.bungalow10 wrote: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.SamGamgee wrote:If I was a high school teacher I certainly wouldn't require them or allow them to be used on tests.
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.

 Posts: 2270
 Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2011 6:28 am
 Location: Chicago North Shore
Re: Graphing Calculators
If your kid has no math hopes beyond Algebra II or Precalc, then that would probably be fine.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.
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
An elephant for a dime is only a good deal if you need an elephant and have a dime.

 Posts: 564
 Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 4:05 pm
Re: Graphing Calculators
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.
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.
Re: Graphing Calculators
As a former lazy calculus student, I stand by my words.bungalow10 wrote:If your kid has no math hopes beyond Algebra II or Precalc, then that would probably be fine.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.
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

 Posts: 1176
 Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 10:21 pm
Re: Graphing Calculators
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.