Stuck in the Past: The US Math Department

Neel Agarwal '20, Staff Writer

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Walking into math class my freshman year, I noticed I was the odd guy out. However, it wasn’t because of my skin color or my strange attire; rather it was because my “fancy” TI-Nspire. Other than the name printed on the tops, my calculator was very different from the conventional TI-84: it had longer battery lives, it had a larger size, and its carried a more modern aesthetic. Not to mention, the 84’s cost $100 and came out in 2003, whereas the Nspires came out in 2012 and cost $140!

There is no clear advantage of owning a TI-84 over a TI-Nspire because there seems to be virtually none and the advantages of the Nspire outweigh those advantages. 84’s are old tech, slow, outdated, and not very user-friendly with obscure programming menus and “hidden” math functions only known to die-hard users. They are so outdated that Texas Instruments, the company that made them, is trying to phase them out, with the addition of “newer” revisions of the TI-84, in an effort to clear out the older TI-84 plus/TI-84 Silver Edition (the ones we use here at US). They hope to make the older TI-84 plus/TI-84 SE obsolete in order to progress forward and to not leave users in the dust. In addition, at the recent T3 Conference sponsored by Texas Instruments (a teacher development conference), most of their sessions were about the Nspire, and only a handful for the 84’s, in an effort to phase out usage of the 84. The fact that the parent company is ditching their older product, but we aren’t is a wonder in itself.

Opponents to the abandonment of the 84 and the adoption of the Nspire point out that the 84 has many more community made programs and is the most widely used calculator, with its development being more mature compared to the “new” Nspires. The Nspires, can do much more, however, despite the seven-year gap between the development and manufacture of the models. Prebuilt with most software that TI-84 users had to download from the Texas Instruments website, it is the pillar of the new tech making its way to classrooms. The Nspire’s features are not limited to: 3d graphing, differential equations, documents including spreadsheets and geometry, a simpler user interface and drop down menu, symbolic math expressions (without CAS), etc. And believe it or not, you can use the Nspire on every single standardized test that the 84 can be used on, but the Nspire has more features to offer, thus a much better deal; They are faster, easier to use, contain more features, and are “newer”.

With all the new features of the TI-Nspire and the fact that the current calculators in use are outdated, the US math department should consider upgrading to TI-Nspires because we shouldn’t be confined to the past.