The Graphing Calculator: Your Best Friend at School?

It used to be considered cheating to bring a calculator to your math class or to use it on a test. Today however teachers are more concerned with students developing formulas and equations than anything else. This is where the graphing calculator comes in. They were first brought to market in 1985 by Casio but did not become popular until Texas Instruments and their TI-81 model in 1990. Soon after, it became a part of the school supply list for students ages 10 all the way through High School.

Graphing Calculators and Schools

Once students make it into algebra and beyond the graphing calculator becomes their best friend. Of course it did almost anything you would need and it was programmable too. Various options were available depending on the model. They could be programmed on the computer and then the file could be sent to the calculator via a USB cable. They can also be programmed on the calculator itself. The point of all this programming was mostly to help automate frequently used formulas and functions.

When the student gets used to working the graphing calculator they can use it throughout their entire High School career. Formulas, graphs, charts, even small games can be run on these. For the most part, aside from faster processors the graphing calculator has not changed all that much. Many of the newer ones act more like a PDA with calculator functionality allowing you to interact with a calendar or task list. They can actually be really helpful in school for a variety of reasons.

Taking Math to the Next Level

Let’s face it, not everybody loves math. It is comparable to something like eating octopus. You either like it or you don’t but at first you don’t want to try it because it looks different. The truth is for the people who like math, it can be challenging and fun. In addition it does not matter what profession you go to later in life you will use math at some point. For certain professions without math you are not going to make it. Jobs like being an engineer, chemist, or scientist of some kind. Math is an essential part of all those jobs and many more.

The graphing calculator is a tool. It is a tool that will help a student from the very first time they use it and all the way through high school. Some people are even still using their high school graphing calculator in college. Of course something like that is a bit on the extreme side. Not everyone is going to keep one particular calculator that long. Still, they are a good investment. Some kids will use the same one from Junior High all the way through High School.

The Online Calculator

Graphing calculators do not always need to be a physical hand-held device. Today there are a variety of mobile apps that can turn your smart phone into a pretty good scientific calculator. The benefits of doing this are for one the money. You already have a phone and if you have to pay for the app chances are it is under a couple of dollars. There is nothing wrong with using either the mobile app or going online with your browser and finding a calculator on the Internet. There is quite a few that rival any calculator sold in stores. Some advocates of the online variety of graphic calculator will boast that they are better by far simply because of the other options they offer. You can always minimize the window that contains the calculator and do something else. You cannot multitask with a hand-held.