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  • TI-84? Who needs it! Get a graphing calculator online

    Posted by Kenny on April 27th, 2012

    Man, how I loved my TI-84 graphing calculator.

    It was my trusty sidekick in high school algebra. It travelled with me to pre-calc, throughout college Calculus I, II, and III, and linear algebra. And right when I was off to conquer Differential Equations, the unthinkable happened — it was stolen — or borrowed for an indefinite period of time by an unknown person.

    What was I to do? Shell out another $100 for a calculator? I was just a poor state-college kid booking $7/hour as a math and computer science tutor!

    Back then, my options were limited, but one of the best tools I ever stumbled on as a calculator replacement was GraphCalc for Windows. Graph calc let me do 2-D graphing, 3-D graphing, change coordinate systems, solve equations, integrate and differentiate. What more could I ask for? I didn’t want to deal with the full-blown academic platforms like MatLab or Mathematica for basic stuff.

    I used GraphCalc for the rest of my time in school and never did buy another TI-83. It’s a fantastic option for Windows computers.

    Later on when I got an iPhone, I quickly found the Quick Graph app. This is another fantastic graphing calculator with many of the same functions mentioned above, and it’s free. I can’t imagine how great it looks on the iPad. I’m sure Android/Kindle Fire devices have something similar (turns out they do).

    Don’t have an iPhone or Android? No problem! If you have the Google Chrome browser (for PC or Mac), you can navigate to the Google Chrome Store (all free, don’t worry) and download a nifty in-browser calculator called, well, “Graphing Calculator”. And below, a screen shot of it in action:

    These free calculators can can be used advantageously by schools and districts that simply don’t have the budget for graphing calculators for everyone, all the time. When I was in high school, teachers had to schedule when they were going to use the shared, prized, graphing calculators. And if a calculator was dropped, heads would roll!

    Even if your students (or children) already have a graphing calculator, there are some big benefits to being able to enter equations and views graphs on a big screen in color. And since many teachers (like MyClassHQ’s Katie) have smart board or projectors hooked up to their in-class computers, students can see things in a much more engaging manner.

    Entering equations is easier, and PC/Mac-based calculators will always be flat-out more powerful and featureful than handheld ones.

    Anyway, hope you find that useful! Feel free to email or comment with any input or suggestions.

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