Calculators lose their hold in classrooms

Whether students are in Algebra, Geometry, Algebra 2 or even Calculus, a graphing calculator is a necessity and an easy way to make math manageable. Some would say that graphing calculators are bulky, unattractive and in no way useful, while others would rave about their mathematical miracles.

A graphing calculator may not be perfect, but it can make the next years of math smoother. A graphing calculator can ease the stress of solving, simplifying and factoring all types of equations, whether doing homework or keeping up with class. A graphing calculator may be clunky, but the wide screen makes checking and solving problems easy. An average calculator does not have all the tools and buttons a graphing calculator has and a graphing calculator has several programs you can download for free and use as much as possible.

“Every time I do my homework I use a graphing calculator,” sophomore Kaitleigh Fetterman said.

Even if you hate black calculators, stores like Wal-Mart and Staples sell cases that come in many colors and designs to fit any student’s personality. The calculators that are used in high school math classes are not limited to school. They can be used in the accounting, technology and business fields later on in life.

“Graphing calculators help create visuals and help students check their work,” chemistry teacher Eileen Walsh said.

On the other hand, calculators may seem helpful, but they can hinder your bank account and limit your learning process. Any store that sells calculators does not offer them cheap; the average TI-84 calculator can cost up to $100. Hundreds of students at AHS need graphing calculators and students can rent them per year, but if they are lost, the retail price will have to be paid in full. Once someone has a calculator, it’s difficult to learn how to use them and on top of learning the basics, students must learn different functions and various methods to use it properly. So, instead of easily doing homework, students can be stuck trying to figure out how to turn them on.

“Students tend to be dependent on graphing calculators and only memorize the steps,” math teacher Leonard Bumbaca said.

The growing act of downloading games onto calculators is also taking away learning time in class. “Students can easily download games and stop paying attention in class,”math teacher Virginia Long said.

As an alternative to the current method of utilizing calculators, many AHS students have iPods and iPhones which have built-in calculators with the same functions as a graphing calculator, but are lighter and are easier to maneuver. There are even online graphing calculators that can be used at home. Instead of buying one, teachers can print out the buttons and functions and students can try them at home.

The calculator and its usage has changed over the years and there are both pros and cons to having them in school.