Disclosure: We were provided a calculator by Texas Instruments to facilitate this review. I've included affiliate links in this post, meaning if you purchase through one of my links, I'll receive a small percentage. Thanks for supporting MoneywiseMoms at no additional cost to you.
We're in new territory this year–middle school–and it's been a challenge for both my 12-year-old son and I. Even though I went to middle school (ahem, in the 80s) and taught middle school science for a couple of years, doing it as a parent is a completely different point of view. Back when I was in school, we were excited with our lab of Apple IIes and a calculator was a relatively new tool, and an amazing one at that, but today?
Today a school calculator puts more computing power in the palm of your hand than ever could have been imagined back in the 80s. When my son started algebra this year, one of the supplies on the list was a graphing calculator. Having never used one, I wasn't sure what to expect.
What's a graphing calculator?
A graphing calculator is used to plot graphs, solve simultaneous equations, and perform other tasks with variables in classes such as algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, and physics. Graphing calculators are programmable with large displays used for scientific/engineering and education apps. As explained to us at back to school night by my son's algebra teacher, this calculator would soon become an extra limb, used constantly in class. And while the processes seemed foreign to us, the students would quickly understand how to use their graphing calculator well. We're not even a month into school right now, and that's already the case.
In most school systems, students will use their graphing calculator from beginning algebra all the way through calculus, anywhere from 6 years and into college. The TI-84 Plus CE is the only calculator approved for use on the SAT and ACT tests.
The TI-84 Plus CE has a rechargeable wireless battery and comes with its own AC wall charger and USB charger (if you prefer to charge via computer), but you won't find it necessary to charge often, even with daily use. With typical use, it should only need to be charged once per month.
The newest model of the TI-84 Plus CE come in black as well as fashion colors–pink, plum, denim, red, blueberry (shown above), and silver–perfect for students to find in a crowded backpack. If you're thinking long-time use like I am, consider a neutral color that your student will like as he or she matures. This model is sleeker than the previous version and weighs 30% less, even with its removable cover.
The TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator has a color, backlit display along with all the functions needed to succeed in higher-level math classes through middle and high school (and beyond). Find online resources like tutorials, Getting Started activities and Test Prep at the TI Education site. Purchase at Amazon or other online realtors. MSRP is $119.99.