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Put the Calculator Away!

Posted on 19 November 1998

The following text was written by Jimi:

Consider the following example: You’re sitting in the back of your English class. It’s boring and seems like it’s never going to end. You look at the clock. There’s still 15 minutes left to the class, so you decide to pull out your TI85 and play a game of Galaxian or two, and so you quietly do so, hiding the calculator behind your book bag. You get so into the game that you fail to notice the teacher is walking down the aisle toward you, wondering why you’re not watching the board at all. You finally notice when the teacher calls on you to answer a question. In panic you stuff the TI-85 under your book bag to cover it, but your teacher takes note of your actions and realizes what you’re doing. "Put the calculator away," you’re caught. The batteries are pulled from the calculator and you may have to wait a day to get it back.

This is a common scene at many high schools around the nation, and for this reason, many teachers look down upon the Texas Instruments graphing calculators, seeing them as frequent toys and seldom academic tools. Teachers in all education departments are aware of the gaming capabilities. Texas Instruments has remained far from openly advocating implementation. They have, although, put built-in assembly language support in several of their more recent calculators, but do most Calculator Based Laboratories need assembly support? Do you need 98 kilobytes of RAM to solve linear equations? Probably not. Texas Instruments is only aiding the gamer by adding these features. There is no real need other than better graphics, faster ray-casting, faster RPG, more levels, more games, and room still to have all your Calculator Based Laboratories and data.

There are many students who get perfectly decent grades and deserve to goof off in class a little. But there are many students who are struggling and games only serve as an added distraction.

If calculator gaming is continued at this scale, teachers will take away calculator privileges and gear their class labs, assignments, and studies toward calculators without the gaming functionality. Students need to realize that there is a time to play and a time not to play. If games on calculators lose their usability they will die off. There will be no programmers popping up with the aspiration to become great if there is no need for calculator based games.

We will see new generations of calculators designed with the sole purpose of math and science applications only. Texas Instruments calculator games will be novelties and antiques if the current situation continues. Something must be done!

  Reply to this item

Re: Article: "Put the Calculator Away!"
(Web Page)

First of all, I'd like to say that many times this is the case in classrooms. However, all the people who don't make good grades, let them play, they already don't care about their grades anyway (and I can't stand it when I make a "B"!). I admit that I play games during class, but usually it's only when I have free time anyway. Hey, I even sell graph-links (see my page), and I figure if people want to play them in class, that's their problem, I'll laugh when they get their calculator taken up. However, there is a way teachers can't touch it. Before they're able to swipe it from you, throw it in your backpack, or pocket, and they can't search for it there...it's illegal search and seizure (just some pointless facts). Keep in mind they might still get mad at you and send you to your vice principal or something like that. In conclusion, don't blame people's bad grades on calculators, blame it on their lack of enthusiasm. Maybe it's the teacher's fault for making their lesson plans so boring...

Reply to this comment    25 November 1998, 19:29 GMT

Re: Re: Article: Put the Calculator Away!
erik schippers  Account Info

you say that if you throw it into your backpack you cant get caught. That i would like to say is wrong. According to supreme court case "New Jersey v. T. L. O." it is legal for schools to search the student's backpack and anything else they use to hold their items without a warrant. The reason i know this is because i had to study this case for gov. class last year. So even if you throw it into your backpack they can still grab it out.

Reply to this comment    22 September 2010, 15:39 GMT

Re: Article: "Put the Calculator Away!"

JIMI SHUT UP. Not everyone plays games in class and I belive that I have a right to do things with my calculator. I agree about not playing games in class but is that a reason to take away the TI series? NO! if you would like to reply to this message than e-mail me at Cougardog@aol.com

Reply to this comment    26 November 1998, 01:37 GMT

Re: Article: "Put the Calculator Away!"

At my school, ti calculator games are played only by those who do well in class anyway, because only the "smart" people bother buying calculators with assembly suport. This means that the ones with the distaction of the games available are the ones who can afford it the most.
I am the distributer of both Ti-83 and Ti-86 games in my school (someone else handles the Ti-85 stuff) and I feel that this action has not damaged anyone's ability to work in class. People play their games when they do not need to pay attention, not when they should be doing work.

Reply to this comment    26 November 1998, 16:59 GMT

The Bottom Line
ZeromusMog / MogKupo0

After reading all 130 or so comments (I can't believe I did that) it seems like we're all saying the same thing, with a few glaring exceptions. If you screw up by playing games in class instead of paying attention, you'll get bad grades, unless you happen to be gifted with the material. I learned this the hard way. I am taking Algebra II again just because I wouldn't listen to the teacher. There's no way I shouldn't have passed the class the first time. However, it was my fault for getting 11,000+ points on plain jumper during a block period instead of learning how to solve three-variable systems of equasions, not Mr. Boomer's. (For those if you unfamiliar with Plain Jumper, you get about 6 points a second...). Personally, I think that teachers shouldn't care at all if you're playing with your calculator instead of paying attention. I currently belive that erasing memory is evil, since it IS just like formatting someone's hard drive, just on a smaller scale.
My Algebra II teacher this year doesn't really care if you play games during class. In fact, he watched a friend of mine and I play zTetris through the link cable during tutorial (which is this cool experimental thing that my school has where you can chose where to go and there is no formal instruction) and just walked away. We argue sometimes about whether or not he should erase the memory for tests, but I've diciplined myself to resist killing time by trying to get 12,000 points in Plain Jumper, but rather pay attention and learn what's going on.
I manage to pay attention in all of my classes, yet still manage to play more per capita calculator games than many other people. I usually play at the end of class where we're just waiting for the bell to ring, during Marching Band now that the season is over and we have nothing to do, or during lunch when everyone starts to get boring. Sometimes, I just keep it on me outside of school in case I have to wait for something and I'm bored.
Also, I really enjoy programming. I know BASIC inside and out (except those darn get and send commands...) and I am learning ASM with the philosophy that if I can learn ASM I can learn anything. Since I want to program computers for a living when I grow up, and our school has NO programming courses (unless you count HTML as a programming language) it's a lot of fun. Not to mention the anticipated fame for creating an assembly game that everyone likes. I've even made several friends through graphing calculators.
Save it be the first semester of my freshman year, my calculator has been only positive, especially since I have a math teacher (who most people consider 'boring' and 'evil') who somehow managed to teach me to think with my brain, not with my calculator. Hell, I even know what the cube root of 343 is. Any teacher who can get me to memorize that (I made a 'flashcard' program in BASIC, btw) must have SOMETHING special.
So forget about the banning and such. If teachers act like pricks and take calculators away, that's their problem. Calcs will never be banned; there are very few schools anal enough to actually do that. I went to one of those schools for Junior High, and it was never a problem since only my friend and I had graphing calculators. I've always been the programmer and he's always been the tester, and I loved making BASIC games (our favorite was a stock market game) and he loved testing them out and I enjoyed watching him. My English teacher was on my case several times for playing my games in class, but when she threatened to take it away, I stopped.
So, I think I have found my point. Don't be a prick. You people who complain about people who don't know how to use a calc are right, but rather than complain about it and, in general, act like a prick, show them some stuff. It took 10 seconds to explain the POLY key to someone who asked me for a quadratic equasion program. If you want to see how nasty and evil people can get by acting like pricks instead of sharing their knoweledge, go to #LinuxHelp on IRC. Works best if you're from AOL.
That's one of the things I like best about the Assembly community. Mostly due to lack of documentation, people are willing to help out and explain things instead of saying "RTFM" and leave you confused. I have bothered poor Electrum to death, but he's not mad at me. He just keeps on helping! ComAsYuAre is the same way! If I would have done a similar thing to a group of Linux geeks, they would have killed me!
So what does this have to do with the point? The point is that this whole thing is caused by people acting like pricks. If teachers wouldn't be pricks and erase people's valuable data, that would be a huge help. If student's wouldn't be pricks and try and stick it to their teachers by playing games during their lessons, that would majorly solve the problem. And if the "Knowledge Elite", which is you, doesn't act like a prick and show other people how to use their calculators for something other than zTetris or Super Mario 86, it will be almost impossible to ban calculators since people would actually find them useful.

Go ahead. Share the magic of the POLY key today.

Reply to this comment    28 November 1998, 06:58 GMT

Re: Article: "Put the Calculator Away!"


Reply to this comment    28 November 1998, 21:09 GMT

Re: Re: Article: "Put the Calculator Away!"
Rebob Dobbs

Damn straight, brutha!

Hallelujah for the TI-89...

Reply to this comment    8 December 1998, 04:44 GMT

Re: Article: "Put the Calculator Away!"

After hearing about all of the schools whose teachers are slowly turning against calculators, it got me thinking. I don't want that to happen in my school. Many of the people in my school abuse calculators games, but don't really know anything about programming itself. That is why I plan to make a Trojan Horse Calculator Virus. It will appear to be a regular game until after the user uses it about 15 times, it will reset there memory. The because the user will be able to play the game for a couple of times, it will allow the Virus to be spread. Eventually, gaming will be slowed to crawl or even stopped, thus protecting calculators for future students.

Reply to this comment    28 November 1998, 21:33 GMT

Games virus? Oh please.

You're overlooking a couple things. (Starting with basic courtesy, but that's another issue) Graphlink. Period. Unless you design a virus that can burn itself into the ROM, anybody with the graphlink software/cable and anybody that these people allow to pair calcs with is immune to this....like back in HS, I had a couple buds with 85s and one with a 92, we'd always trade data every week or so, just in case.

Reply to this comment    30 November 1998, 14:36 GMT

Re: Games virus? Oh please.
Olathe  Account Info
(Web Page)

Not that I'm condoning this, but wouldn't it get annoying having to restore everything every few days ?

Reply to this comment    19 August 1999, 10:39 GMT

Re: Article: "Put the Calculator Away!"

In my Pre-Calc class, my teacher can walk by your desk while you're playing tetris or whatever and compliment you on how she likes that game. A couple times, she's asked to try playing and ended up playing most of the period after she was done teaching the lesson. She has an 85 and asked to get a copy of the games. It was pretty funny!

Reply to this comment    29 November 1998, 21:00 GMT

Re: Article: "Put the Calculator Away!"

i'm suprized so many people actually read my article. a lot of these responses are awesome. one of the best ones was about it being the teacher's problem that they themselves are losing the attention of the students to calculators. everyone has put a lot of thought into their comments. what do you think about this: "is TI putting the extra memory on the calculator just for games or completely for school?"


Reply to this comment    30 November 1998, 01:34 GMT

Nobody is to blame, it''s not that big of an issue....
(Web Page)

As I was reading these comments, an I hear the mention of John Locke's theories, and statistical data. I started to wonder, is this really that big of an issue. These are calculator games, simple as that. Calcs may be cleared and some teachers may be angry about it. But really, who cares. As to, school is to learn, well, learning is something YOU do, not something that you are forced to do, and it is your choice wheter you flunk out. I play calc games and I happen to be a straight A student, saying that it causes a distraction for bad students is true, but, so does that girl sitting next to them. I think this whole thing has been blown way outta proportion, you would think we were debating the statehood of Guam, or something major like that.


Reply to this comment    30 November 1998, 05:09 GMT

Re: Article: "Put the Calculator Away!"
(Web Page)


Reply to this comment    1 December 1998, 22:01 GMT

Re: Re: Article: "Put the Calculator Away!"
Justin Wilson

her if you need mor memroy for your calc go here http://www.calamistrum.com/visualdesign/e2/expander2.html
this is an external hard drive for all Ti calcs it will hold all your games so if the teacher deledt your mem just plug in the expander 2 and yopu hae your games back

Reply to this comment    11 December 1998, 02:29 GMT

Re: Article: "Put the Calculator Away!"
(Web Page)

I am that person that you are talking about, alkways getting introuble in class cause of my tu83. I LOVE PROGRAMMING. IF YOU HAVE ANY PROGRAMMING TIPS FOR TI83 PLEASE EMAIL ME

Reply to this comment    1 December 1998, 22:39 GMT

Re: Article: "Put the Calculator Away!"
Justin Wilson

I believe it will never happen. My reason for this are at the hight school level techers could care less. If u don't pay attion and your flunck out its your fault and your summer your wasting. If you wana play games you can but it is your hide if you fell. Thats what my teachers say
they believe we are grown enough to make decisions for are selves. So i f the class doesn't pay attion thats less work for the teacher so they don't realy care.

Reply to this comment    2 December 1998, 03:11 GMT

Re: Article: "Put the Calculator Away!"
Andrew Higgins

I have had my TI-83 for 2 years now. Last year I would spend all of my 90min chemistry class playing stupid games like "Tunnel" (no offense).
although I barley passed that class my calculator inspired me to learn to program in TI-BASIC.
By the time I got to 11th grade the next year I had not gotten very far. But thanks to a boring math class I have gained the ability to make a complex game of almost any time in under 45min. (albeit with no cool features or graphics).
My calculator did cause me to do poorly in school but I have learned to love programming and I am now learning C++. Hopefully I will get a crareer in computer programing thanks to my TI-83.

p.s. It is against the law for a teacher (or anybody) to purposely erase the memory on your calulator. It falls under that private computer saftey act or something. All I know is that it is illegal and you shouldn't let anybody do it. No matter what the consequences.

Reply to this comment    2 December 1998, 21:35 GMT

Student''s choice. Calculators replace other distractions.
Nathan Lewis

Lets say for a moment that TI or HP never made any calculator capable of playing games. Do you really think that there would be more students paying attention in class? I think not. Playing games on a calculator simply replaces the other distractions students take up when they are bored. There is always staring out the window, doodling, writing notes, writing in a journal, working on other homework, staring at the cute person across the room... Game playing on calculators are not the cause of any problem. They are simply a reflection of the human attention span. They also reflect the interest of the subject to a particular person, their self control, and how much control the teacher has of a class.

I'm in college at UW-Madison now, but I can fully relate to just about every comment made. Math was always pretty boring, so I played a lot of games. I aced math all the way through high school, including AP calc. But when AP Physics came along (notorious for the hardest class in the school) I paid attention. I had to. Every had to. The teacher had a way of demanding it. Not directly, but everyone knew screwing around was not allowed. The calculator also came out for a few other classes, such as English, every once in a while. But if I wasn't doing that, I'd be filling in the margins of my paper with neat patterns.

I think it is cool that TI puts more memory into their calculators. There is more to do in assembly than make games. But even if someone never uses all that memory for doing math, they at least get a free gameboy when they have to buy that $100+ calculator for Calculus.

If a student doesn't want to pay attention to what the teacher is teaching, they won't. A gaming-calculator is just another outlet. You can force kids to go to class, but you can't make them learn.

Reply to this comment    7 December 1998, 10:33 GMT

Re: Student''s choice. Calculators replace other distractions.
cm0001  Account Info

even if they set up some kind of block we would just find away around it , like me i can hack a psp and put a custom firmware on it in under 15 min

Reply to this comment    1 October 2008, 04:32 GMT

Re: Article: "Put the Calculator Away!"
Will Herrick

Hey, I kinda agree with what people are saying. As a student in high school, I know that games take away from the attention that we pay our teachers.

Sometimes we get bored because the teacher ratts on about ruBP synthesis or something and thats when we whip the good ol' TI-86 out.

I think the calc hurts me though. In my math class I'm falling behind, yet I play games because I have no clue what's going on. If you get lost the calc can only hurt you.

But otherwise, its a good thing. But you have to know when to pay attention and when not to. My teachers haven't exactly cared about me playing games on the calc, because they figure it's me getting screwed. Actually, sometimes it is. But when you know the material well and have time to kill, it's time to relax a little.

Reply to this comment    8 December 1998, 17:46 GMT

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