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Math people -- ?? about scientific/graphing calculators


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I have some questions regarding the upper level math calculators.

 

My dd finished Alg.1 and Geometry and used my old scientific calculator (it's a Casio fx-350). This seemed to be fine.

 

In Alg 2 it states that she should have a graphing calculator and recommends either a TI-82 or TI-83.

 

My question is whether one of those 2 calculators is absolutely needed, or would the scientific calculator that we have work for Alg 2. If she is going to require one of the above for PreCalc/Trig and Calc, then I might as well get one. Just curious as to what is really required.

 

Thanks to anyone who might be able to help shed some light on this for me.

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Coming from an engineer who graduated college years ago, I didn't us a graphing calculator until college. It isn't needed through pre calculus IMO.

 

While many of us oldsters managed high school and college math courses without graphing calculators, these tools are incorporated into many modern texts. My concern is that if a student does not use a graphing calculator until, say, Calculus, then too much energy goes into using this tool when energy should be used to master the material in Calculus.

 

I prefer students to graph by hand in Algebra II and Precalc, but then use their graphing calculators to check their answers. Over reliance on graphing calculators is problematic. That said, I was shocked to encounter problems on AP Calculus exams that could only be done on the calculator. Numerical approximations are now part of the program.

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My ds15 uses a TI-83 in Algebra 2, but I'm embarrassed to say that he didn't use the graphing feature because we didn't understand what the graph meant. He uses graph paper for graphing problems.

 

For other problems (log and cosine stuff), DH, a math guy, had our son practice problems by hand using the tables in the back of the textbook. However, DH thinks the calculator is a good tool, but only after our son understands how and why a problem is solved. Ds's textbook does include some instruction in how to use the calculator but doesn't have as much as we've needed really.

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My question is whether one of those 2 calculators is absolutely needed, or would the scientific calculator that we have work for Alg 2. If she is going to require one of the above for PreCalc/Trig and Calc, then I might as well get one. Just curious as to what is really required.

 

 

Hi,

 

I agree with Jane that while us oldsters were able to get through upper maths without a graphing calculator, their use is worked into most contemporary math programs.

 

I'm not sure which curriculum you've seen that recommends the TI-82 or TI-83, but both of there are pretty outdated. If you do get a graphing calc, I'd suggest a TI-84 at the minimum. They are pretty pricey, though. If you can wait, the best sales are usually during the back-to-school period in July/August.

 

I had my son do most of his graphs by hand in Algebra 2, but now that he's in PreCalc, he's doing a combination of by-hand and with the calculator. I've started allowing more use of the calculator since I can see that he understands the underlying concepts pretty well.

 

Personally, while I think learning graphing by-hand is important, the graphing calculator really helps a student to explore concepts more easily. With a few simple key strokes, a student can quickly see what happens to a function when you multiply it by a constant or shift it left or right. I know that for my visual learner, the graphing calculator made all the difference in him being able to really grasp PreCalc.

 

As others alluded to, it takes some time to get used to the keystrokes and functions on the graphing calculator. That's one reason I'm letting my son use it more this year. He used a basic scientific calculator last year for Algebra 2, but then I took it away and had him switch over totally to the graphing calculator. When it comes time for him to take the ACT/SAT/SAT2 Math/AP Calc exams, I want him to be completely familiar with the graphing calculator so he isn't wasting precious time trying to find keys.

 

HTH,

Brenda

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There is NO need for a graphing calc on these tests-- there will be only 1-2 problems where knowing how to use one may speed things up==but manual graphing of these problems is EASY and quick.

 

What DOES help is a calculator with parenthesis...

 

I suggest the TI-30Xii around $15 and works great for these tests and other high school maths.

 

I personally teach the graphing calculator in Pre-Calc-- as a SECONDARY method to manual computations.

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While many of us oldsters managed high school and college math courses without graphing calculators, these tools are incorporated into many modern texts. My concern is that if a student does not use a graphing calculator until, say, Calculus, then too much energy goes into using this tool when energy should be used to master the material in Calculus.

 

I prefer students to graph by hand in Algebra II and Precalc, but then use their graphing calculators to check their answers. Over reliance on graphing calculators is problematic. That said, I was shocked to encounter problems on AP Calculus exams that could only be done on the calculator. Numerical approximations are now part of the program.

 

I have also run across people that were teaching assistants in college who could not do the entry level calculus with out a graphing calculator. Unless the student really has the material down cold I wouldn't encourage anything more than a basic scientific calculator. It isn't that hard to learn how to use a graphing calc. if you end up needing it on SAT's. I do know that the preferred graphing calculators for engineers have been the HP calculators. Most if not all of the graphing calculators are no longer allowed for the professional engineering exams. I am surprised to hear that they are allowed on the ACT/SAT's. Maybe they have come out with graphing calculators that don't have memory.

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Most if not all of the graphing calculators are no longer allowed for the professional engineering exams. I am surprised to hear that they are allowed on the ACT/SAT's. Maybe they have come out with graphing calculators that don't have memory.

 

Some of these calculators are not permitted. If you plan on having your child use his graphing calculator on standardized tests, check to make sure it is an approved calculator. The ACT does not permit some graphing calculators that are permitted on the SAT and SAT II's.

 

My son could not use his TI-89 on the ACT when he took the test last year, but he was able to use it when he took the SAT in middle school and on his physics AP exam.

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Thank you all so very much for these very helpful responses. I have always made dd learn to do all of her work by hand. She didn't even use a calculator for Alg 1 or Geometry. I only allowed her to start using a calculator as she prepared for the SAT.

 

So several of you seem to have different ideas about which graphing calculator to purchase, so I am wondering what the consensus is as to which we should go with?

 

I am also curious as to resources available (other than what is provided in the actual textbooks) for learning how to use the calculators to the best of their ability.

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I have also run across people that were teaching assistants in college who could not do the entry level calculus with out a graphing calculator. Unless the student really has the material down cold I wouldn't encourage anything more than a basic scientific calculator. It isn't that hard to learn how to use a graphing calc. if you end up needing it on SAT's. I do know that the preferred graphing calculators for engineers have been the HP calculators. Most if not all of the graphing calculators are no longer allowed for the professional engineering exams. I am surprised to hear that they are allowed on the ACT/SAT's. Maybe they have come out with graphing calculators that don't have memory.

 

Wow to the bold.

 

True Geeks love their HPs but here is the problem for the typical homeschooled kid who takes a math class at the CC. It will probably be recommended that the student buy a TI. Many of the College Algebra/Precalc texts have side bars with TI screens pictured. Calculator exercises are common and not all are trivial.

 

I would not recommend an HP calculator to a non-STEM major. Did the OP say that engineering was the direction her student was headed?

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Wow to the bold.

 

True Geeks love their HPs but here is the problem for the typical homeschooled kid who takes a math class at the CC. It will probably be recommended that the student buy a TI. Many of the College Algebra/Precalc texts have side bars with TI screens pictured. Calculator exercises are common and not all are trivial.

 

I would not recommend an HP calculator to a non-STEM major. Did the OP say that engineering was the direction her student was headed?

Well, at this point we are not ruling out her being a STEM major. Not at all sure, but it's still a definite possibility.

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Well, at this point we are not ruling out her being a STEM major. Not at all sure, but it's still a definite possibility.

 

As noted, True Geeks love Reverse Polish notation. But you may have a hard time finding resources or assistance for an HP calculator.

 

One thing you might want to consider: will she take a math class through dual enrollment in the years ahead? Or does she have an idea where she might want to apply to college? Why not see what the school recommends? There are a few engineering programs out there that do not want students to use calculators in Calculus. At the same time, I know that our local CC required a graphing calculator for College Algebra/Precalc. The school may recommend a particular make and model.

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Here's a great chart from Texas Instruments showing their calculators and whether they're approved for the different standardized tests.

 

http://education.ti.com/educationportal/sites/US/nonProductSingle/graphing_course_comparision.html

 

Personally, I really like the TiNspire for its versatility. These calculators are expensive - about $150 or so - so I wanted one which can be used for as many different classes as possible. Since STEM is a possibility for your daughter, IMO it's definitely worth learning how to use a graphing calculator. The math texts she uses should teach her how to use them as she progresses in math. I know Saxon does.

 

HTH :)

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None of my kids were allowed to use a calculator in calculus 1 or 2. Some of these classes were at the local 4-year college and some were at the local CC. These were NOT "math geek" classes.

 

Woe be unto that person who cannot function without a calculator!

 

We introduced calculators fairly late in our homeschool just because we wanted the kids to develop a solid sense of math without any dependence on calculators.

 

I think Reverse Polish is a love language. My future music major kid has grown up with an HP and is just about to get her very own HP 50g. She will probably be the only music major around who balances her checkbook in RPN!

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I am also curious as to resources available (other than what is provided in the actual textbooks) for learning how to use the calculators to the best of their ability.

 

I finally broke down and bought TI-89 Graphing Calculator for Dummies last year when I was going through Precalculus with my younger dd. Her elder sister had used the TI-84 which I could handle much more readily.

 

I loathe the whole dummies concept but it was the best resource out there that I could find. I think my major contribution to her progress was shouldering the frustrations of learning to use the calculator.

 

~Moira

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Here's a great chart from Texas Instruments showing their calculators and whether they're approved for the different standardized tests.

 

http://education.ti.com/educationportal/sites/US/nonProductSingle/graphing_course_comparision.html

 

Personally' date=' I really like the TiNspire for its versatility. These calculators are expensive - about $150 or so - so I wanted one which can be used for as many different classes as possible. Since STEM is a possibility for your daughter, IMO it's definitely worth learning how to use a graphing calculator. The math texts she uses should teach her how to use them as she progresses in math. I know Saxon does.

 

HTH :)[/quote']

 

I love the nspire, too. A word of caution, though... I have had several students told they are not allowed to use them on the SAT. I know the calculator should be allowed by College Board's rules, but it is up to the proctor to enforce the rules, and SAT proctors don't always get the difference between a qwerty key pad and an a,b,c key pad. I always have them check out an 84 as a back up to take to the test.

 

As to which calculator engineers like to use, the engineers I know use a computer, not a calculator.

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I love the nspire, too. A word of caution, though... I have had several students told they are not allowed to use them on the SAT. I know the calculator should be allowed by College Board's rules, but it is up to the proctor to enforce the rules, and SAT proctors don't always get the difference between a qwerty key pad and an a,b,c key pad. I always have them check out an 84 as a back up to take to the test.

 

As to which calculator engineers like to use, the engineers I know use a computer, not a calculator.

 

The Nspire we have has two keypads. One is the TI-84 Plus and is allowed on the tests. The other pad and is not allowed on tests - or at least it wasn't a few years ago.. Sounds like it's possible they had the other keypad on? Might not hurt to have a copy of Texas Instruments chart on hand for the test day. Dd has used it for five separate standardized testings sessions, and it was never a problem.

Edited by Teachin'Mine
To correct misinformation
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The Nspire we have has two keypads. One is very similar to the 84 and is allowed on the tests. The other one is a qwerty pad and is not allowed on tests. Sounds like it's possible they had the other keypad on? Might not hurt to have a copy of Texas Instruments chart on hand for the test day. Dd has used it for five separate standardized testings sessions' date=' and it was never a problem.[/quote']

 

None of the Nspires have a qwerty pad. They have an alphabetical pad, which is allowed. The latest Nspire (the CX) only has one keypad, and TI lists it as being fine for the SAT. If your dd is using it with the 84 faceplate, then she is really only using an 84.

 

I wouldn't tell my students to argue with an SAT proctor. I teach at an urban, majority minority, Title I school in an area that is anti minority. One of my students questioning an SAT proctor is going to get them kicked out of a test if not arrested.

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None of the Nspires have a qwerty pad. They have an alphabetical pad, which is allowed. The latest Nspire (the CX) only has one keypad, and TI lists it as being fine for the SAT. If your dd is using it with the 84 faceplate, then she is really only using an 84.

 

I wouldn't tell my students to argue with an SAT proctor. I teach at an urban, majority minority, Title I school in an area that is anti minority. One of my students questioning an SAT proctor is going to get them kicked out of a test if not arrested.

 

Yes you're right about the qwerty vs just letters - I was wrong and will edit my previous post. But at the time we bought the calculator, the instructions were clear that only the TI-84 Plus keypad could be used on the standardized tests - not the other one. She's only using this as that's all that's needed for her classes to date. The other keypad will come in handy for future classes. I did find that the Ti-Nspire CAS is not allowed on the ACT. Maybe the rules have changed and both keypads would be allowed, but I don't think we'll be trying that any time soon. :tongue_smilie:

 

http://www.actstudent.org/faq/answers/calculator.html

 

How sad and frustrating that your students are treated that way. :confused:

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I did more searching and found some answers. The new Ti-Nspire come with the one keypad, but you can request a free Ti-84 Plus keypad to be sent to you. The new ones have a "Press to Test" button which disables the options not allowable on standardized testing. This will cause a green light to blink letting teachers know that some of the capabilities have been disabled. Honestly, I wouldn't allow that calculator for standardized testing as it's too much to expect a proctor to monitor a blinking green light on only some of the calculators. I think getting the optional, and free, TI-84 Plus keypad and using that on test days would be the better way to go.

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