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Graphing Calculators

  1. Aug 28, 2004 #1
    My school, for some reason, requires it's math students to own Graphing Calculators.

    I've been to an office supply store and most of them are at least $100 (Texas Intruments). Although I saw a Casio for just $50. I'm not sure why it's so much cheaper, but that's my main choice right now.

    This calculator is going to have to last me for years with frequent use. It has to be reliable (it can't die in a middle of an exam). I however, don't want to spend more than $100 (not including tax in US dollars).

    Since this is a science forum, I was wondering if you have any suggestions that would fit my needs?

    Any suggestions would help, thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 28, 2004 #2
    Texas Instruments seems like a reliable company to me. I'm in High School so I don't really need an extremely good calculator. I have a TI-30X IIB (Whatever that means) and I've never had any problems with it. It's hit the ground multiple times as well and it still keeps on going. I've never had to change the battery. I think it's solar powered.

    I've never had a Casio but I've seen them and I've never heard tell of them having issues.
  4. Aug 28, 2004 #3


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    The calculator you buy (and how much you're going to pay for it) depends on what you want to use it for. If all you're going to be doing is using it for simple algebraic calculations, you can get by with a cheaper calculator (but if that were all you were going to be doing, your school probably wouldn't be requiring you to buy a graphing calculator). For anything more sophisticated than that, you're going to have to bite the bullet and shell out the money.

    The TI-86 is the best value if you're going to be taking courses that use vectors. It also does unit conversions and has lots of constants built in. You can program in any constants the calculator doesn't have (like the atomic weight of hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen, since those are used so often in chemistry; or the geocentric gravitational constant and the Earth's angular velocity and equatorial radius, since those are used so often for orbital mechanics). You need to carry spare batteries, but it has an emergency battery so you don't lose all your constants or other data while you're changing the batteries.

    The TI-89 is better, but you won't be allowed to use it in some of your freshman/sophomore college classes.

    And, if you shell out the money for a good calculator. Learn how to use it. Its embarrassing to have half the class find out 2/3 of the way through their chemistry course that all of the constants they were memorizing or writing down on note cards were already in their calculators. It has to be even more embarrassing to go into a panic when your calculator dies, only to have someone come over and adjust the contrast on your display for you.
  5. Aug 29, 2004 #4


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    I remember the good old days when graphing was done on graph paper. You were supposed to learn to understand what the equations represented by going through the process of solving them to plot them. [sigh] When I was a student, there were a very few programmable calculators available, and rather than being required to buy them, we were FORBIDDEN to use them on exams, as having equations programmed into your calculator was considered cheating. It's a shame they make you pay an arm and a leg to buy such a thing now. Unless of course, you're past the basic calc course and are using it for things like engineering courses where you need to apply that knowledge now.
  6. Aug 29, 2004 #5


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    Whatever BobG said ! He's the resident expert on calculating devices - but don't get him started on his Hemmi collection ! :wink:
  7. Aug 29, 2004 #6

    WOW...kids in the U.S. are really lucky to be allowed the use of graphing calculators. I've never even seen a graphing calculator in my life. I STILL have to plot out graphs on graph paper, and let me tell you: it is time-consuming. I just searched google for the image of the TI-89 Graphing Calculator. It is all that I want for Christmas this year. :biggrin:
  8. Aug 29, 2004 #7
    I don't live in the US. I try to use US figures to avoid confusion since so many people on this forum are from America. I'm assuming these calculators are required in the US too? Right now, I don't even use a scientific calculator. I use a fraction calculator instead. Scientific calculators are overrated. Some people have to use them, but not me. :wink:

    Although I think that requiring a graphing calculator is over excessive, it certainly saves time and paper. Or maybe I'm just getting too lazy...

    I'd like to see someone use an abacus one day as opposed to a calculator.

    Last edited: Aug 29, 2004
  9. Aug 29, 2004 #8
    Well, to me, the U.S. and Canada education systems are more similar than dissimilar to each other.

    In my country, we are required to get scientific calculators instead of graphing calculators. The abacus is no substitute for a scientific/graphic calculator. I used it for a short period at one time, but had to stop because people complained how noisy it was.
  10. Aug 29, 2004 #9
    I don't know how it is for other college students, but for every one of my math classes in college, I was not allowed to use a calculator on anything at all. This was all the way from Calc 2-3, Differential Equations, and linear algebra. I did occasionally use the graphing calculator to check my answers on homework, but that was about it.

    In fact, I remember a lecture in highschool when I was taking AP Calculus AB(The test is half without and half with a calculator). The teacher said of one problem, "We'll put this one into our calculator to figure it out," and I immediately asked "how do you do it, without a calculator?" I had to ask a couple times to finally get an answer.

    However, in my engineering and physics classes, that is a different story. Calculators are pretty much required on tests in those classes. Actually, sometimes teachers allow laptop computers (internet wireless connections have to be disabled, however)! I don't agree with the design of tests to rely on graphic calculators and computers however, I would prefer it to not be that way. Afterall, I don't remember seeing an engineering problem that couldn't be worked out symbolically on any of my tests before plugging in numbers to finish the calculation.

    Now back to the original topic, I would go for the TI-89. I've had mine for 4+ years now and it's been doing great. That is, unless your school specifically prohibits that calculator. I have never heard of that, however, i have only heard of keyboard-style calculators (like the TI-9X Voyager or whatever that was) being prohibited on tests.
  11. Aug 29, 2004 #10


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    I used log tables to multiply numbers, for a college entrance exam. This was in India.
  12. Aug 29, 2004 #11
    I would recommend getting the ti-83 plus. I have been using it since freshman year in highschool and I am a sr. in college now. It has been fine for all my needs. The TI-83 is an extremely powerful tool if you actually learn how to use all of its functions. I don't see using graphing calculators on exams and in school as a bad thing, why would you not want to be able to use the tools that are available to you? The graphing calculator has made some types of mathematics obsolete. For me mathematics is about the proof, which no calculator can help you with. Doing stupid problems like trying to get a matrix in reduced row echlon form or taking the derivative of something should all be solved using a calculator or a computer, because they are all solved using a step by step procedure. Anybody can solve those types of problems, it doesn't take any thought.
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