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Math Department Inspired to Use TI-Nspire Calculators

Natalie '16 calculates on the TI-Nspire. Photo by Sarah '16.
Natalie ’16 calculates on the TI-Nspire. Photo by Sarah ’16.

This year, the mathematics department introduced the new TI-Nspire calculators for use in the majority of the mathematics classes offered at the School.  The TI-Nspire calculators will replace the TI-89 calculators for Algebra II with Trigonometry and the TI-84 calculators for AP Statistics. Students will only have to purchase one calculator instead of three different ones during their high school careers.

The TI-Nspire calculator alone would only cost a little more than half as much as the TI-89 and TI-84 calculators put together, not including the other calculators students bought for their earlier math classes. The TI-Nspire does not have the “solve” and “factor” functions available on the TI-89, which makes it eligible for use on the PSAT, SAT, and ACT, since those standardized tests do not allow calculators with the “solve” and “factor” functions.

In fact, while the absence of the convenient buttons may frustrate many students, the mathematics department believes that students should not need those functions since the instructors take the time to teach them how to solve problems and factor.

“We felt that people were relying on the calculator too much,” Mathematics Department Head and instructor Christopher Talone said. He also said that the School had contacted other independent schools, such as Harvard-Westlake and Campbell Hall, who do not allow their students to have calculators with the “solve” and “factor” functions.

However, the TI-Nspire calculators are able to solve equations with a graph. In this respect, Talone explained that the TI-Nspire still has the capability to solve, but “it’s just not as straightforward as what the TI-89 was.”