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Calculators vs. PDAs in the Classroom 550

TheMatt writes " is reporting about a new conflict perhaps emerging in classrooms: calculators v. PDAs. The article talks about how TI seems to be making their latest calculator more PDA-like, while PDAs are gaining TI-like functionality. A comment on current math education is this quote from the article: "When you have circles and ellipses, there is no way you'd be able to do this without a calculator," Jarvis said. "It helps us visualize what we're doing." Were the compass and geometry uninvented?"
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Calculators vs. PDAs in the Classroom

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  • I'm old :[ (Score:3, Informative)

    by Telastyn ( 206146 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:48PM (#3689621)
    What? not 6 years ago I/we were required to graph the fuckers manually, and we actually explicitly forbidden from using snazzy ti calcs to do it.

  • HP's (Score:2, Informative)

    by cheezedawg ( 413482 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:49PM (#3689630) Journal
    Sorry, but even after all these years its hard to beat the HP-48. After 8 years I still use mine everyday.
  • Re:TI-86 (Score:2, Informative)

    by NiceGeek ( 126629 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:59PM (#3689722)
    Or if you have a Palm go here -
  • Re:Raising the bar (Score:3, Informative)

    by PotatoMan ( 130809 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:59PM (#3689724)
    Use of the sextant is still required for obtaining masters papers. And the last time I was on a cruise ship, they were actively using their pelorus.
  • by victim ( 30647 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @06:03PM (#3689757)
    Among cruising sailors it is considered somewhat foolish not to pack a sextant and know how to use it. You'd hate to take a lightning strike 1000 miles from land and lose your GPS, RDF, Loran, or whatnot.

    Maybe you'll be bad with the cheap sextant, but you should still get within 30 miles which will let you make landfall during daylight.
  • Hard to draw? (Score:3, Informative)

    by chancycat ( 104884 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @06:14PM (#3689853) Journal

    Circle: Use a compass. A compass is a simple tool that should be easier to learn than any calculator. (Adjust angle, stick pointy end into paper, draw.) And then all kinds of important tricks of geometry are possible, with just the compass - really only learnable with the compass in hand.

    Elipse: put two pegs on paper, the chalk board, etc. Toss a loop of string around pegs. Pull loop of string tight with a pendic, chalk, etc. Draw with string kept tight. Lookie! an elipse! How hard was that?

    I used my TI-85 to do all sorts of math, but I learned my math in books and on paper.

  • by baka_boy ( 171146 ) <> on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @06:22PM (#3689898) Homepage
    Unfortunately, any StrongArm-based PDA (such as the iPaq) has no math coprocessor, IIRC, so it would make a pretty lousy host for any non-trivial math software. Basic graphing or spreadsheet-level calculations would be fine, but anything requiring a lot of floating-point math is going to get ugly.
  • by Amazing Quantum Man ( 458715 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @06:23PM (#3689908) Homepage
    Also the differences between all numbers from 0 to 100 (so I can get my change quickly in case the cash register is broken.)

    Wrong, WRONG, WRONG!!!!!

    Disclaimer: I pulled graveyards at a 7-11 in 1982 and 1983.

    Everyone should learn the PROPER way to make change. It pisses me off when some clueless idiot goes... "$7.47 is your change". That's not how to do it. let's say my bill was $2.53 and $7.47 *IS* my change. The correct way would be:

    Say $2.53
    Give Penny (say 54)
    Give Penny (say 55)
    Give dime (say 65)
    Give dime (say 75)
    Give quarter (say $3.00)
    give dollar bill (say $4.00)
    give dollar bill (say $5.00)
    give five dollar bill (say $10.00, thank you).

    That way, you know that you didn't screw up counting it, or that you didn't fsck up typeing in the amount given. Also, make damn sure you leave the money I gave you on top of the register until I agree that it's the right amount of change. This prevents "I gave you a $20! No you didn't, you gave me a $10!" arguments.

    Alas, making change is a lost art.
  • Re:other conflicts? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Kwikymart ( 90332 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @06:54PM (#3690091)
    I am just graduating from a British Columbia high school, and we are all using the TI83+. I can assure you one thing though, in my physics class, no one would ever have an upper hand with a program whos only function is to solve for a single variable in an equation. In fact, I bet the person would do worse on any test because it would actually slow them down.

    I also have a graph link cable for my TI-83, which allows me to interface with my computer. There are many programs out there, but none that would actually give anyone an upper hand.

    Our course is designed (and I assume most others) so that the formulas are only just the last step in solving the problem. The real problem lies in understanding what they are asking, understanding what is happening, then recognizing what tools are available to solve it. The forumulas themselves are all just grade 8 algebra, and a retaraded braindead monkey could manipulate them with one hand tied behind its back and one eye closed.

    I am about to write the final exam, similar to this [], in a week or two.
  • by SMN ( 33356 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @07:21PM (#3690253)
    The TI-89 and TI-92/92+ and the coming TI Voyage 200 (a souped-up 92+) all run plain vanilla 68000 processors at either 10 or 12 MHz. These have no math coprocessor, either; all floating point math is done with 10-byte BCD numbers and software. And the CAS on these calculators is a scaled-down version of Derive (both were designed by Soft Warehouse, Inc, which TI has since bought out).

    So a powerful CAS is absolutely possible to run on PDAs, especially ones with ARM processors. It's just not too easy to write a full-fledged symbolic CAS, so nobody's gotten around to doing it yet. But it's entirely possible.

  • by SMN ( 33356 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @07:33PM (#3690334)
    TI has made a very preliminary announcement of Organizer software for the TI-89, TI-92+, and TI Voyage 200 graphing calculators at this page [].

    Unfortunately, TI hasn't officially provided much information, but having been involved in the TI dev scene quite a while, I've had the opportunity to play with beta versions of these apps quite a bit. They're slightly limited when compared to Palm because they don't have touchscreen input, although the 92+/Voyage 200 calculators have a full qwerty keyboard. The software is quite nice, and I've been using it full time since my Clie broke a few weeks ago. I'll have the Clie repaired under warrantee, but for the target demographics of TI's calculators (mostly students), the Organizer software is more than powerful enough to make somebody who purchases one of these calcs reconsider whether they need to carry around a PDA as well. And trust me, consolidating the two devices and freeing up a pocket is definitely something to look forward to.

  • Re:TI-86 (Score:2, Informative)

    by arcadesdude ( 398698 ) <arcadesdude@myre ... minus cat> on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @08:08PM (#3690534)
    SimCommunity was great (just like simcity), plus the TI-86 can play TI-85 programs so it also has a SimCity game (of the same name) both are great!

    TI-85: SimCity '99 v0.99 Beta [] Author's Homepage [] (works on 86)
    TI-86: Sim Comunnity v2.21 [] Author's Homepage []

COMPASS [for the CDC-6000 series] is the sort of assembler one expects from a corporation whose president codes in octal. -- J.N. Gray