The TI 89 calculator is probably the most powerful calculator on the market today. But there is something different about the TI 89 calculator from Texas Instruments that separates it from all the rest. This TI graphing calculator has software that gives it "computer algebra system" or CAS abilities. That means it has symbolic manipulation capabilities.
This symbolic manipulation ability, until the TI-89, was limited to high priced PC software used in industry. This is a hand held, portable, battery powered, unit allowed and sometimes required in most higher education and testing.
So "big deal"? Well This "big deal"
is causing a storm among educators.
Here is the problem in a nut shell, the Texas TI 89 graphing calculator does all the work for you and shows you the work done, to get your answer, in what's called pretty print. Just enter into the calculator the problem with all it's x, y's, and z's push enter and boom you got your answer, with the work done, there on the screen. No more need to learn symbolic manipulation. Now that smiling face behind the counter at your local McDonalds, which may not have the slightest clue how to add and subtract, can go onto designing the next bridge you drive over. This I would call, a simple man's view of the world.
First we must ask ourselves, what is required in a quality education in the field of mathematics. What comes to light are three main topics.
1, The student needs to understand the concepts behind the formulas. He needs to grasp why he is using a concept or principle to solve a problem, and when to use a particular mathematical concept or principle to solve a particular problem.
2, The student needs to be fluent in symbolic manipulation to work the problems correctly.
3, The student needs to understand the out come of the calculations and how it relates to the original problem.
Most of the curriculum in mathematics revolve around symbolic manipulation and critically lack time spent on the other aspects of a quality mathematical education. This also pertains to the educators that are teaching mathematics. Many educators are lacking when it comes to understanding aspects of mathematics other then symbolic manipulation. They themselves have never been taught. This problem stems from the fact that one had to be proficient in symbolic manipulation before one could explore many concepts and principals in mathematics.
So even though we can plug the numbers into, say, e=mc^2, most of us walk away with those famous words from Austin Powers " What does it all mean? " in our heads.
The TI 89 Texas Instrument Graphing Calculator allows one to explore these concepts and principals long before one gains proficiency in symbolic manipulation, greatly expanding one's understanding and abilities when it comes to the field of mathematics.
Secondly, it empowers parents. Allowing parents to check home work and work with their children's abilities concerning mathematics. Many parents are at a loss when it comes to the mathematical problems their child has to deal with in their studies. The TI 89 allows the parent to feed the problem into the calculator and view the solution on the screen.
Thirdly, and most importantly, it allows the student to work through difficult areas he or she may be having, with out having to call on others. He is able to go beyond just solving the problem, he can go on to explore aspects of the formulas with out having to go through tedious symbolic manipulations to see where the formulas, concepts, and principals lead him.
I would go as far as to say that for parents with children, the responsible thing would be to own a TI 89 Calculator so as to insure their child finds the beauty in mathematics.
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