A funny about the TI-83

Until a few minutes ago I had never heard of Uncyclopedia, but it appears to be a great send-up of Widipedia. A guy on one of my astronomy forums posted a link to a funny article about astronomy, and further searching came up with this:




Hilarious, and that's from someone who spent quite some time on "real" programs for that machine ;-)


Not to burst anyone's bubble, but TI probably sells more 83's in one week than the number of HP's (all models) sold all year!

Hilarious? TI's laughing all the way to the bank! Fact is, the 83 is a good graphing calculator and it is being used in the schools (including my classroom) to teach kids about math.


It's just a stupid article - Not a contest. :^)


Yeah, I know that Ron. But some folks see TI products as just for gamers, and I think that both HP and TI have mathematical value.


Lighten up Don.
I think I've proven my bona fides to the TI community a LONG time ago.
There is A LOT more energy devoted to games on the TI-83 series than serious math ;-)


P.S. Do keep that link in mind since built-in normal in TI sucks ;-)


I can also attest to the fact that there are more games for the 83/84 than anything else. Check out ticalc.org.


Hey Bob, I'm not questioning your work with TI software, I see you've done some good stuff. And, yes, I know there are thousands of games for the TI-83's and 84's; I'll even admit I've run some of 'em myself! But that does not invalidate the TI's for teaching math (or HP's for that matter, I plan on using the 17bii+ solver for teaching about budgets). Here is a current example from my 8th grade algebra class.

My kids are learning about solutions to first degree equations like 2x + 3y = 20. They know how to turn that into y = mx + b and graph the line on paper. Next I am going to show them how to find the equation of a line from just 2 points (find the slope, substitute x and y from one of the points, then solve y=mx+b for b). Then I will show them how to verify that their equation is correct on the 83+ by having them do a stat plot of the two points, look at the graph, then enter their derived equation into the y= editor, then graph that and see how the 2 points are right on the line.

Now, my experience tells me some kids will find that interesting, maybe even relavent, and some will just say "that's nice, now let me play quark!" Most just put up with it, frankly.

I think any calculator can be an aid to education, in the hands of a teacher who takes the time to understand how it works and use it in an educable way. Some kids will benefit from it, some won't, but that's true of most anything in the education field today.


I just get a kick out of satire that has a bite, and some basis in reality.

I think my most useful contribution to the TI-89/92/v200 series is command line access to statistical distributions without loading up the full StateLE package.

That was inspired by a desire to make the 89's more like the 83's for students transitioning to the more powerful gaming machine ;-)



And now cometh the NSpire! The ultimate gaming machine if only it were programmable like the 8x series. I expect someone will figure out how to run Tetris on it.


You can probably bet on it ;-)


I hear ya Bob. That sendup of Wikipedia is funny, and big. All the links i tried work. I like "evil pi" the best.
I'm not sure but i got the impression that the writer was unhappy with both having to buy that particular calculator and run it using the canned programs. I might be wrong but he may just have a mind of his own, and the ability to do math outside of an application that was written by someone else.
I can see why some teachers like these things though. Teaching calculator use instead of math could take a lot of the pesky intuition, skill, and work out of the job.


What's REALLY funny is that I posted the link on the TI forums, and they were deleted within SECONDS! ;-)



Seems like if there are REAL issues, TI should just try to shut down the site.

But removing posts is not likely to keep the information suppressed in the Internet era ;-)


This is REALLY odd.

They were there, they were gone, now they are there again.



You know, I've heard of TI denying warranty claims if there's any evidence that MirageOS (a shell popular on the 83/84 - third-party Apps are only allowed to be a certain size (16 kiB if my memory isn't failing me,) so a small shell that runs as an App is needed to run bigger third-party Apps (there is AsmPgm, IIRC, but that's slower and even more restrictive)) was ever run on the calculator...

And, the site distances itself from TI - note their disclaimer:

GENERAL: ticalc.org is not affiliated with Texas Instruments Incorporated in any way. ticalc.org may revise these Terms at any time by updating this file. You should visit this page from time to time to review the then-current Terms because they are binding on you. Certain provisions of these Terms may be superseded by expressly designated legal notices or terms located on particular pages at this Site.

I suspect TI sells more calculators because of ticalc.org than it would without, though, so TI shouldn't have a problem with it.


Using the calculator to "verify" is not teaching rigorous mathematical reasoning. Why not teach the concept of checking solutions?! Everything can be checked "on paper" to a state of true verification, and that is the core method--what you should teach these young budding mathematicians.

Furthermore you are wasting that precious little bit of class time on spurious temporal object training--calculator use--rather than on maths.

Don't take this personally. This new "calculator maths teaching" is endemic and systematic, but it is flawed pedagogy.


Bill, with all due respect, the middle school classroom is not Marine boot camp. I use whatever tools I think are appropriate to help the kids learn, appreciate, and understand math. I'm sorry if my methods don't meet your rigorous standards, but I'll continue to do things that I think help the kids understand math.


Hi Don,

I don't think you understood my post. Learning maths in a rigorous fashion is not a matter of making it harder ("boot camp").

I just don't see how messing around with tedious little graphing calculator commands helps to understand maths. In the time you spend with the calculator-related aspects, you could construct a much more lucid description of point-slope form on the white-board.

Insofar as standards go, it isn't my standards that matter: rather it is the well-established benchmarks of algebraic proficiency--benchmarks which are decades old in the making. A thorough familiarity with algebra doesn't come without rigorous understanding. If you can't build algebra from the ground up, you haven't become proficient in it. My point is that the calculator is soooo totally irrelevant to that development.

Edited: 17 Dec 2007, 10:47 a.m.


Bill, I think I understand what you are saying, but you have to realize the realities of the middle school classroom. They may not be pleasant, but they are the world both I and the kids have to live in.

When I was in 7th grade (1962 maybe), we were obedient little kids who took notes, rarely misbehaved badly, generally tried to do good enough in class so that our parents wouldn't give us a whipping, but in general were bored with most of school. It's a different world today. Kids are much more easily distracted, and a teacher has to be creative and find ways to keep them interested. That might include using a calculator, videos, electronic whiteboard, tablet pc's, electronic Jeopardy, and other things to capture their interest and, perhaps, create an opportunity for them to learn something. Lecturing them at the black/white board won't work; they will tune you out in about 5 minutes. As a teacher, I have to compete with video games, cell phones, ipods, itunes, internet, facebook, the list goes on, unfortunately. So we try to find ways to capture their interest in today's world. In 1962, the only competition was Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color! Today, it's different.

I understand about rigor. Goodness knows the state board of education keeps preaching it. I just want my kids to learn, and the fact is calculators will help some, not all certainly, kids get interested and learn. A good teacher does not just lecture from the board today. A good teacher finds innovative ways to capture the kids' attention. Hopefully, most of them learn the basics. In today's world, that's about the best you can hope for.

Thanks for your inputs. I really do appreciate them. I alway struggle with finding ways to teach these kids today.


I find this exchange interesting for several reasons. When I was taking* calculus in high school, I struggled with the work. We did math by writing, not typing. My teacher would occasionally use a slide rule and the HP 41CV was cutting edge. In my opinion, the problem was due to the scripted teaching emphasizing process over application.

As I have grown older (and very much wiser), I have found that my career and hobbies have driven me to learn so much more than I ever would have when I was younger. I crave understanding history, science, and math because I now can see the application of these subjects to the problems I want to solve around me. I use matrices to solve dominance (influence) problems and Markov chains. I use integrals and derivatives to explain "buyer's remorse" over time.

And my sons (5th and 3rd graders) have the benefit of my demonstrating the application of math in their lives. I showed them the sports page a few years ago and now they calculate player and team statistics--perhaps a bit obsessively now. They understand the use of estimation to get a quick answer. The older one understands simple algebra and solving equations: he can plot simple graphs and he understands basic math using units. All of these things are due to their needs to solve problems around them and not because the school curriculum is requiring it.

I think that the calculator and the computer have their place, but the student must see the relevance and application of the subject material. If they want to solve problems that interest them, then the learning "happens". The tool will merely be reached for to get to the answer more quickly.

* I should say studying, but I was not truly a student of the subject.


Excellent observations Chris. The good teachers always show the relevance of what is being learned to the world of the students. You are right, that is the only way students learn. And the really good teachers find creative ways for the students to "discover" the knowledge themselves. Knowledge that students discover themselves, they keep forever; knowledge obtained from a teacher lasts about 30 seconds! Everything a teacher made me memorize, I forgot. But when I got to choose a poem myself to memorize, I still know it 45 years later.

It's always fun to ask students in math class "what occupations require no math?" They frequently say "hobo." Of course, that is not an occupation, but even a hobo needs to know if the amount he panhandled is sufficient to buy a sandwich (or bottle of whatever). I always try to present real-world problems to my students, because it makes the learning relevant to their lives.

I don't think you relax standards in this day and age; the curriculum is important (although for the life of me I can't understand why we must teach kids about stem-and-leaf plots, or box-and-whiskers plots; they will never see one after they leave middle school). You just need to find creative ways to teach and reinforce it. And you just have to keep plugging away at it.


(although for the life of me I can't understand why we must teach kids about stem-and-leaf plots, or box-and-whiskers plots; they will never see one after they leave middle school)

Box-and-whisker plots seem to be quite common, although they are usually turned sideways and are used to indicate the distribution of observations of the y-values for each x-value, instead of being an entire plot. For example, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Michelsonmorley-boxplot.svg.

Stem-and-leaf plots just look like a simple form of histogram to me, which are also quite common. Perhaps learning about stem-and-leaf plots might even help a student to grasp the concept of a histogram.



You mean the nSpire will link to on-line gambling sites? Cool! ;-)


How about Poker'nSpire? ;-)


Quote from the beginning of the article:

“Isn't this the greatest invention ever made? This says that 1 + 1 is equal to 11”

~ Some Math Professor on the University of Texas faculty

Of course, that's part of the send-up. But from the correspondence in this forum one can find repeated contentions that

-32 = +9

and those entries are not send-ups. Only in RPN.


Chris, here is an excellent article that discusses what is wrong with education today. The author is so insightful about current problems and what might be done about them.



When my son took high school calculus two years ago everyone in the class had a TI-83 because that is what the textbook was based on. Everyone, that is, except my son. He didn't want a TI, so I let him borrow my HP-48G (he's still borrowing it). The teacher was actually thrilled because he personally uses an HP-48GX and had only learned enough about the TI to get along. My son thinks he and his cousin (HP-48G+) were the only two kids on campus with HPs.

TI may be laughing all the way to the bank, but if my two daughters' experiences are any guide, part of it is due to the need to replace TI calculators with some regularity because of their short life spans. My daughters went through multiple TIs. None of my HPs have ever been replaced due to failure.

My son does not have the same love for calculators that I have because he grew up with a computer in the house and sees calculators as limited, old school devices. He laughs at slide rules! My son is not a gamer, he is more the network admin type. His experience from high school trig and calculus is that NONE of the TI owners (i.e. other students) really learned how to use their calculators for math...they used them to play games as the article so humorously points out. My son, on the other hand, learned how to use the HP decently well to the point that he was often the only student who could actually provide answers during class. He was even faster than the teacher most of the time.

The overarching point is this: *most* calculator and computer users never learn more than the very basic operations. To me the beauty of the calculator, and later the computer, is that it allows me to explore math and engineering topics faster and in more depth than I ever could with pencil and paper. But, I was interested in doing so.

I am a civil engineer, and one of my frustrations is the lack of curiosity that many (not all) of the younger engineers I work with have. And you would think that engineers of all people would be interested in how the math applies to their profession. While I was on the steep part of my personal learning curve, I invested hundreds of hours of my own time learing how to apply various calculating tools to my job. I wrote and still write programs for my HPs (primarily HP-41CX and HP-42S), Excel spreadsheets, and Mathcad documents to solve various problems that I encounter as a civil engineer. By this process, I learn the subject matter so much better than those who don't.

I once had a young engineer do a two page calculation by hand. When he was done I checked his work and found it mostly correct (right procedure, a little sloppy handling the numbers). I then took his HP-41CV, plugged in my card reader, and loaded a program I had written several years before and showed him how to do the same calculation on the HP. He was actually upset with me. My retort: I don't want you to use a computer to solve a problem until I am confident that you understand the problem and how to solve it. He now uses this same approach when he is training a young engineer.



Fred, excellent points all.

*most* calculator and computer users never learn more than the very basic operations

I agree. Kids in my domain, middle school, could not care less about calculators. That does not surprize me; it's hard to compete with an iphone! My experience is that most math teachers don't care much about calculators either, and many do not understand enough about the functions in a modern graphing calculator to give kids adequate directions for using it. Maybe that's as it should be.

I tutor kids at night in their homes, and one kid, a 10th grader who is excellent in math and has a TI-83+, knows a lot about that calculator, and I have showed her other features she did not know about. But, while she is certainly the exception (she also solders!), the TI-83+ is a great tool to help her explore other facets of math. And a HP calculator would also be a great tool for her. Another kid I tutor expressed an interest in RPN, and I gave him one of my 12c's as a gift, and he uses it all the time (I think he likes the fact that no one else in his world can figure out how to use it!).

I don't want you to use a computer to solve a problem until I am confident that you understand the problem and how to solve it

I agree. I don't show my kids how to solve an equation on the calculator until they have demonstrated that they can do it by hand, on pencil and paper. After I show them how to use the quadratic formula or completing the square, and they demonstrate that they can do that, then I show them how to use polysmlt on the TI-83. By the way, the TI-83 is not generally used at middle school level, but I am teaching some advanced 8th graders algebra, and it is very useful for that task.


Don, I most often enjoy and agree with your postings. This in general is no exception, but I must take exception to one thing- hobos were not panhandlers. In fact the term comes from a contraction of "hoe boys" (different meaning today, I guess, but I digress) because they often carried a hoe or some other farming implement, for they were itinerant or migrant farm workers in search of employment. Being poor, they "turnstile jumped" onto trains as they couldn't pay. I'm sure they employed math, even if only simple arithmetic to see if they weren't paid fairly for their time.

I would suspect that more often than not, hoodlum may be an occupation that uses no math, not so much because it isn't really needed, but probably more out of hubris and stupidity. I'm also sure some of them might steal calculators. I wonder what for, though.


Thanks, Ed. I was not aware of that distinction between hobo and panhandler. I guess I've always thought of hobo's as the guys who "ride the rails," jumping on boxcars and going from city to city and trying to avoid the rail police (like Ernest Borgnine in that old movie I forget the name of). As opposed to panhandler, which would be the guys (and gals today) asking for a handout or help. Then there are the guys who stand at the intersections with signs saying "lost my job, will work for food, please help." Like many, I sometimes give something to them and hope they really use it for food. Then there are those who sleep in lean-to's under expressways and frequent the homeless shelters. I guess every country has folks who have fallen on hard times.

In addition to teaching math, I teach social studies, and I try to raise the social consciousness of my students by engaging them in small projects to help those who are less fortunate. I don't want to get too far off-topic here (although I already have), but I do believe we all have a responsibility to help make the world a better place, for everyone.


I've read that article before (linked from these forums?) and agree with the author. The assertion of the relationship between the social environment and learning is particularly astute.

Of hobos and panhandlers: Ernest Borgnine was the mean train guy in "Emperor of the North Pole". I saw that at the drive-in back in the 70s. Now that we have successfully derailed (har, har) the thread...


IIRC, The movie's name was
"Emperor of the North Pole".


dona nobis pacem


Oh, on the subject of "the homeless"...

About a decade ago a study was done,
they offered homeless people a new start...

(a decent place to live, decent food, education and or job training as well as assistance in getting a job.)

They discovered the program didn't work for about 11% of the people.
These were the people that only want "to get high". (drugs, alcohol, etc.) They don't care about living in a healthy clean environment, or having a job, they just want to get high, and if you try to help them, they will attempt to convert what they get to cash, so they can get high.

So, programs can help a majority of the homeless, but not all.
It is up to each of us when we encounter a homeless person to discern if they will actually use the money for food or bus ticket.


dona nobis pacem



My two cents, (in 1960's dollars),
I bought a used TI-83+ for my college math(s) classes because it
was the one recommended by the college; most of the texts had in the margins instructions on how to use the TI-83 to work the lessons. (I already owned an HP-48, HP-15c, and HP-41c, but more for collecting purposes as I am/was very math(s) illiterate-yes, an HP groupie!)

On of the instructors passed out a few sheets giving us step by step instructions on programming 3 specific algorithms in the TI-83; we'd need those programs in the exam.

With my interest piqued, I learned more about programming the TI-83,
and when a particular assignment indicated a FOR loop to increment, calculate and pause (for me to read the results) I made one.
Sometime after I submitted the assignment and had received the grade, I mentioned what I'd done to the teacher. He said, "Well, if I'd known that, I would've given you extra credit on the assignment!"

I don't carry the TI-83+ to school anymore, in its place is the HP-48, and I "force" myself to use/(learn to use) it for problem solving.


dona nobis pacem

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