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Calculator Flaw Forces Recall in Virginia

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the slight-bump-to-the-gravy-train dept.

Education 687

Jivecat writes "CNN is reporting that TI is recalling 11,000 calculators issued to students in Virginia because of a flaw that would give them an unfair advantage on standardized tests. A 12-year-old discovered that by pressing two keys at once, the calculators will convert decimals to fractions. The tests require the students to know how to do this with pencil-and-paper." So the calculator is being recalled because it's not crippled enough. Maybe it's a good time to question the wisdom of issuing expensive electronics to students in the first place, though I'm sure the calculator companies would rather you didn't.

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Next To Go: '+' Sign (3, Interesting)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762676)

Seriously, isn't this a bit of an overreation?

So what if the calculators make it easier to convert from decimal to fraction? Train *all* of the students to use the feature and its value as an advantage.

As for the issue of using a pencil and paper, then that is how you verify that they *know* how to make the conversion and didn't rely on the two-key method.

Bureaucracy masked as education.

Re:Next To Go: '+' Sign (4, Insightful)

stripmarkup (629598) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762725)

I disagree. Being able to convert decimals to fractions is something that everybody should know. Teaching someone to look under the hood and know how things work is important. After that, they can choose to never look again and use a tool if they want.

Re:Next To Go: '+' Sign (2, Insightful)

Galidron (851131) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762749)

I agree that they should know how to do this. Wouldn't the easy solution be to disallow calculators on the test?

Re:Next To Go: '+' Sign (1)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762805)

That's why you don't allow calculators on that part of the test. It would be unreasonable to expect a teacher to be absolutely 100% familiar with the features of every single claculator on the market. It would be equally unreasonable to demand that a student buy a particular model.

But, by simply saying that since you are expected to know how to do something on your own, you have to do it on your own, you side-step the problem. We used to have tests in calculus, where part was calculator-allowed, and part was calculator-banned. That way, we all had to know the fundamentals of cranking through an integral by hand, but also had to know how to work our calculators. (well, technically, you could have done numerical integrals by hand, you just would have had to be really fast...)

Re:Next To Go: '+' Sign (5, Insightful)

spizkapa (198167) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762859)

It's much easier to adopt a system like in some Universities in Britain where the examinations office provide standard calculators for all students who need to use one in their exam. This way, the exam setter can make sure noone gets an unfair advantage.

Re:Next To Go: '+' Sign (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12762811)

Converting decimals to fractions is dead simple.

.999 = 990/1000

3.14 = 314/100

Converting fractions to decimals is the trickier bit:

22/7 = 3.142857...

Yet amazingly, they are not going to cripple the calculator such that it can't divide two numbers. Wierd.

Re:Next To Go: '+' Sign (1)

rokzy (687636) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762830)

I believe the point is that if you give marks for working, you won't benefit much from knowing the two button method anyway since that ill only give you the answer not the method.

I remember in my tests there was always more marks for working than for the answer, and even if the answer was wrong you'd still get marks for correct working, for example if you made a typo at the start but were then consistent.

Re:Next To Go: '+' Sign (4, Interesting)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762904)

I dissagree. Very few people in real world situations EVER need to know how to do this, and most people know the easy ones like .5, .3, .25 etc. If you where in a field where this kinds of calculations where needed all the time, then yes you would need to know how to do them. But honestly I have yet to use anything i learned beyond basic math and trig outside of my work.

Quite frankly I find it more a crime on teaching people how to NOT find the answer, than to use a god damn calculator, especially as we start teaching what was college grade math earlier and earlier in education.

Perfect example. prof set forth a problem that the class had to solve in 3 minutes. All the students scrambled to figure it out except one. The one got up left the room went to our advisors room grabbed a book and came back to class with the answer.
He got the A that day cause the test wasnt the problem, it was who was going to waste their time trying to figure it out on paper when the answer was staring you in the face on the bookshelf.

Dear Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12762898)

There is this fine girl in my math class who always comes over and expects me to do her math homework. Any advice on how to get her to have sex with me?


Uh, isn't it TI (5, Informative)

captainbeardo (868266) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762690)

Am I blind or does it say Texas Instruments, not HP?

Re:Uh, isn't it TI (1)

siphi (732622) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762781)

It says HP on the /. homepage, but ti here. Strange

Re:Uh, isn't it TI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12762846)

It's updated on the home page now, just refresh. Maybe it was cached or something.

No, it's right. (5, Funny)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762861)

On a similar note, Microsoft will be recalling 3 billion instances of RedHat from the market. Apparently all you have to install it, and the secret "doesn't crash or get hacked" function starts working, giving administrators an unfair advantage over other administrators.

It is suspected that Microsoft may make other recalls in light of this recent events, including the Playstation 2, Google's search engine, and the United States government.

In other news, any of you that have hot girlfriends ('re probably not real, but I can pretend) will have to hand them over. I'm recalling them.

log books (5, Funny)

Audent (35893) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762691)

I remember (back in the day - mid 80s) asking a teacher why we weren't allowed to use calcluators at all. He replied that this was to train our minds so we could do these things ourselves without aid.

Someone else asked "So WTF is with these log books?". He got detention.

Teachers... you've got to love them. Well, someone does.

Re:log books (1)

Ghoser777 (113623) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762812)

I find your story kind of interesting. This year I taught trigonometry to regular level geometry students in two ways - by using a trig table and by using their calculator. About half the class liked using the trig tables, the other half liked using their calculators. I think the teacher's goal was right, but his explanation was a little off - you should be able to use data appearing in different contexts. It sounds simplistic, but I think it's important to realize that when you're looking at a log table and when you're hitting the log key on your calculator, you're essentially doing the same thing (as far as the user is concerned).

Re:log books (1)

Hiro Antagonist (310179) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762857)

Being able to quickly add simple fractions in your head: Very Important.

Being able to hand-calculate logarithms: Not So Important.

It is TI not HP. (0, Redundant)

highfreq2 (575192) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762692)

Now even the moderators have stopped reading the articles.

Re:It is TI not HP. (1)

kyoko21 (198413) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762728)

Yeah, no kidding. The other folks posting comments aren't reading and just writing HP this and that....*sigh*... so sad.

Good to know that someone else also read the article :-)

Im first! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12762694)


Read the article (0, Redundant)

kyoko21 (198413) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762697)

Umm... so when is HP = TI?

Or am I blind here?

Re:Read the article (1)

markild (862998) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762780)

It was so damn hard to find anyone using an HP calculator, so they just did a photo of a TI...

Hmm (5, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762699)

All I got when I first clicked on this was 'Nothing to see here. Move along'. Something about that just doesn't [B]add[/B] up.

Seriously though, I've been against giving calculators to grade school kids for a long time. It's all part of the dumbing down of our society. Let them learn how to do math properly, [I]then[/I] teach them how to use a calculator when they start studying higher maths that actually need one.

Re:Hmm (5, Funny)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762737)

I feel the same way with web development. Let them lean html and then teach them about bbcode.

If you just give them bbcode right from the beginning, they'll think they can just always use that, and not preview their posts.

Re:Hmm (5, Funny)

giminy (94188) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762767)

Same thing about spelling. Let them learn to spell, then teach them about spellcheck.

Re:Hmm (5, Funny)

DaveJay (133437) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762862)

In soviet russia, all of the above things are done in the reverse order.

Re:Hmm (5, Funny)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762927)

And in Korea, only old people do those things.

Re:Hmm (1)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762773)

Of course, you still get the odd mistake even with when using preview. But you probably won't get things as obvious as having bbcode in your post.


Re:Hmm (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762863)

Indeed. That's what I get for posting on 2 other forums while writing that post. I deserve any razzing I get for such a newb error :)

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12762798)

Let them lean html and then teach them about bbcode.

If you just give them bbcode right from the beginning, they'll think they can just always use that, and not preview their posts.

Best irony evar. Sig'd.

Re:Hmm (1)

zxnos (813588) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762751)

as a side note to your comment: my wife runs a tutoring business and recently received a request for tutoring from a parent who says the teacher wont teach their child spelling and grammar becuase "those things are checked by computer". its amzaing.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12762880)

Is she teaching you, instead, I hope?

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12762910)

its amzaing.

Good thing it's your wife who tutors.

Re:Hmm (2, Interesting)

HyperBlazer (830880) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762888)

Let them learn how to do math properly, then teach them how to use a calculator when they start studying higher maths that actually need one.

Erm, just which "higher maths" need calculators? I just finished a degree in mathematics, and I was allowed to use a calculator on exactly one test during the entire degree: Numerical Analysis (that is, the approximation of solutions using computational methods).

In high school, I learned how to use a calculator, which let me learn the minimum in calculus (etc) and still get good grades. So I never learned it right, until, after my first degree, I came back for a second one in maths.

I'd just leave it "let them learn to do maths properly."

Not really (4, Insightful)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762909)

Unless it's applied, most higher math doesn't require a calculator (at least the Calculus/Diff Eq. I've taken). Calculators belong in science class, not in math class (unless you want to teach kids how to program on them, which is what I spent most of math class doing).

crippled as marketing? (1)

moz25 (262020) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762701)

As I understand from the article, this calculater is aimed at these school kids, so if HP wants schools to actively assist in the marketing for these things, they'd better cooperate. Speaking of which, can't they design calculators to be a bit more.. well.. "hip", e.g. like an ipod?

Re:crippled as marketing? (1)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762821)

Aside from the fact that the article says TI and not HP (blame editors now), HP has been trying to make their calculators flashier. The HP32C replacement (can't remember the model) looks like Mechagodzilla's codpiece. Sadly, They Don't Make 'em Like They Used To (tm). The old brown (or dark green for the 48G* models), hard plastic clicky key machines of yore are gone, to be replaced by membrane keys and gold paint.

Re:crippled as marketing? (1)

temojen (678985) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762826)

What's more hip than a postfix-notation calculator?

Re:crippled as marketing? (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762897)

What's more hip than a postfix-notation calculator?

They can take my reverse-polish-notation HP48GX from my cold dead hands. Sure it was slow as hell compared to the TI92 my friends had, but I dropped it down two flights of stairs and it didn't have a scratch on it. The TI92 would've asploded.

A flaw? (2, Interesting)

guardiangod (880192) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762703)

A 12-year-old discovered that by pressing two keys at once, the calculators will convert decimals to fractions.

You sure it is a flaw? Sounds more like a hidden function by a bored programmer to me. Also, what's wrong with the fraction function? My Casio FX-260 S Calculator that I used in ~grade also has a fraction function. No one ever complain about that :/

Re:A flaw? (1)

Quill_28 (553921) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762802)

What's wrong with the fraction function?

Nothing unless you are being tested on fractions.

A kid who can't add 3/5 + 5/6 without a calculator will have a hard time solving for x in this equation when he gets to algebra.

x/5 + 2x/3 = 13

What's your point? (1)

Achromus (810984) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762919)

My calculator can solve that equation. Would you say this a bad thing?

Re:A flaw? (1)

Omnieiunium (872399) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762844)

I agree. On my calculate there is a function that does this for you. It is a TI 83-Plus so I guess it is a little more advanced that this, but hey, there is a freaking function to do this.

I agree... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12762709)

with not issuing calculators to students until they arrive to high school level. American students fair very poory in math compared to European students and asians. Finland and Japan routinely do the best at math compared to other countries.

Get rid of your spell checker. (1)

MushMouth (5650) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762832)

They also fare very poorly at English.

They just (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12762711)

00001110001110101010101110010-ed. Pft.

HP? Don't you mean Texas Instruments? (1)

cplusplus (782679) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762713)

I didn't see HP mentioned in the article. Only Texas Instruments.

Now is the time to (0, Offtopic)

88NoSoup4U88 (721233) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762715)

reomvee selplechck form miosrocft wrod

i dont get it... (2, Informative)

zxnos (813588) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762717)

...if they have to do know how to do it by hand, why do they even have a calculator available during the test. back in the olden days (90's) we had to take an exam w/o calculators to prove compentency before we could use them in class.

Texas Instruments! (0, Redundant)

Pete Brubaker (35550) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762721)

It's not HP. It's TI. Maybe you should find one of those calculators and see if you can get them to read articles for you.

Hey! (1)

lordsilence (682367) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762722)

I used to press all the keys at once on my texas calculator. This made it to simply shut down, what's that for a cool hack huh?
Buffert overflow?

Now where's my graphing calculator.

If I press all my TI-83's buttons... (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762835)

...will it show me its hidden pr0n?

Re:Hey! (1)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762840)

Its more of a hack on the keyboard itself. The traces behind the buttons can (could) be made to do reciprocal things. If you wanted to activate the funtion in the upper right corner, you pressed the three buttons on the upper left, lower left, and lower right simultaneously.

You can see the same sort of thing on older touch tone telephones. Press adjacent buttons and you can hear one of the pure tones touch tone is made of.

TI, not HP (1)

morcheeba (260908) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762729)

Actually, it is TI, not HP.

And they are recalling 160,000 calculators, not 11,000. .. if only they had used the original TI-30 []

So they're testing on calculator knowledge. (3, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762732)

Why do they even allow the use of electronics on those tests? Dump the electronics and focus on testing the real skills.

If you have the skills, then using a calculator makes you faster.

If all you have is the knowledge of where the key to press is, then you won't be able to check your work.

Re:So they're testing on calculator knowledge. (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762892)

Why do they even allow the use of electronics on those tests? Dump the electronics and focus on testing the real skills.

Forget it. It's about standardized test scores, and how school districts are evaluated.

This brings back memories (5, Interesting)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762916)

In my undergraduate electromagnetics class, the professor was adamant that he would never allow calculators on his exams, but he'd generiously allow anyone to use a slide rule (assuming we could find them and learn how to operate them).

HP != Texas Instruments (-1, Redundant)

uberdood (154108) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762734)

Does anyone proof their submissions? Do any of the editors at /. proof the articles? Oh, sorry, that's right. It was authorized by Tim.

heh.. (1)

bobsalt (575905) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762736)

I still remember back in the early eighties when the calculator watches hit the scene. Teachers hated them! Almost as much as the souped up stompers....

anyone else here hook a 9v battery to a stomper way back when? they even have stompers anymore?

Re:heh.. (1)

Blue-Footed Boobie (799209) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762787)

Care to enlighten us as to what a "stomper" is??

Re:heh.. (1)

Pentavirate (867026) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762875)

Check it out here [] about a quarter of the page down.

Stompers were cool. I never souped them up, but I did take them apart and take the moter out. The contacts were the exact right distance to hit the contacts on a 9V battery!

Re:heh.. (1)

siphi (732622) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762864)

Never heard of a Stomper. What's a stomper?

Old world + new world. (1)

Eric_Cartman_South_P (594330) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762740)

Old world: recall the calculators!
New world (to which I subscribe): recall the fucking tests!

ruined (5, Funny)

pintomp3 (882811) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762742)

that fat fingered 12 yr old should have kept his mouth shut. ruined for anyone else who knew but was smart enough to keep it to themself. seriously though, who is buying calculators for kids learning basic math? pretty soon, the answer to all math problems will be "press the #s on the phone that dail your favorite geek". at least that's what my fiance does.

Re:ruined (0)

Monkeman (827301) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762815)

Well, I...

You see...

This is so mindnumbingly stupid that I can't think of a response.

Good game, pintomp3.

No Calculators Util College (1)

Uhlek (71945) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762752)

As a student who was allowed to use a calculator from the sixth grade forward, I found that my ability to do simple arithmetic in my head was very much diminished. While I could do derivations and other logical functions mentally quickly, when it came to adding two-digit numbers in my head, I still struggle and use my fingers.

This even makes my current career a pain in the ass as i have to subnet every single day.

Students should be forced to use slide rules and pen and paper. There is no educational advantage to allowing them to use calculators.

Re:No Calculators Util College (2, Insightful)

Galidron (851131) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762823)

I could see enforceing this through Algebra, but pushing it into Calculus might be a bit much. Unless I'm the only one who had Calc in High School.

Re:No Calculators Util College (1)

DaveJay (133437) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762913)

There is no EDUCATIONAL advantage, but there is a TESTING advantage, and thus more $$$ for schools. I say this, because you stated you struggled with mental mathematics because you were allowed to use a calculator -- whereas I struggled with mental mathematics because I was terrible at it, and wasn't allowed to use a calculator, so my grades and test scores suffered.

Assuming you and I were both taught poorly and learned little, you can't do math mentally but had good test scores (benefits the school) while I can't do math mentally and had bad test scores (would have been good for me if I hadn't done so well in other areas that they let my math slide).

You and I would have been much better off if we'd just been taught properly, of course. :)

Time to reconsiderer teaching...? (2, Insightful)

MTO_B. (814477) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762753)

/. News says: Maybe it's a good time to question the wisdom of issuing expensive electronics to students in the first place, though I'm sure the calculator companies would rather you didn't.

Well, maybe it's time to reconsider if students need pencil-and-paper in a techno age that even a mobil phone has a calculator.

Why not show them what they can achieve with the calculator rather than how to achieve what the calculator does?

Re:Time to reconsiderer teaching...? (2, Insightful)

dark_requiem (806308) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762876)

Yes, because who really needs to understand basic math? I mean, the machines will always be there to do it for you, right? And the machines will always do everything perfectly, because there has never been any incidence of a machine operating incorrectly, so there's no need for basic math skills to check your work, or determine if the calculator's answer is even remotely reasonable.

You can't simply create technology, forget how it works, and assume it will work forever. That's the basis for plenty of distopian sci-fi, and for a good reason.

Re:Time to reconsiderer teaching...? (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762884)

Why not show them what they can achieve with the calculator rather than how to achieve what the calculator does?

I recall a novel about a guy from today arriving to the future.

The world had become dependant on calculators, and nobody knew the basics operations. So this guy comes, shows them how to do a square root or division, and the people were amazed at him knowing the secret knowledge. They would test his assertions on the calculators, and say "hey, it works!"

Besides - calculators in tests are a trap: At first they help you with the basic knowledge that you SHOULD have. But they WON'T help you doing fraction stuff with polynomials (unless they're really advanced calcs). And when you NEED the basic knowledge, you don't have it.

Nice aid, calcs! Thank you for crippling our brains.

Anyway, if this special test requires the hand-and-paper knowlege, why not splitting in two?

Tests that require pen-and-paper (NO calcs allowed), and tests that require more advanced knowledge (calcs allowed).


Re:Time to reconsiderer teaching...? (0, Flamebait)

RM6f9 (825298) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762923)

Are you a parent?
Y'see, I can't decide if you're seriously suggesting continuing the trend of learned helplessness by way of dependence on electronic tools that may or may not continue to function perfectly forever, or suggesting that *others* continue their slide into mental cripple-ville while you and yours (and me and mine) gain potential advantage...
Either way, nice potential troll.

TI-85 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12762755)

My TI-85 was converting decimals to fractions over 10 years ago... Why is this news?

Simple plan! (2, Insightful)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762756)

1) Have a portion of the test allow calculator use, and a portion of the test not allow calculator use.
2) Make sure the fraction stage was in correct part of the test.
3) Ummm... Privatize?

(By the way, TFA says TI, not HP.)

Re:Simple plan! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12762865)

4) ???
5) Profit!

a graphing calculator? (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762766)

Chesterfield County school officials held a low-key ceremony to honor him, and Texas Instruments sent him a graphing calculator, "which he loved..."

Yeah, that'll help him learn the fraction function. I would've loved it too though. I have a plain vanilla (or chocolate? It is black) TI-83, and I would not mind trying one of those TI-89s or whatever's the newest one now.

Where to draw the line (1)

a_greer2005 (863926) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762770)

Why alow calculators ontests at all? if you cant do the basic stuff with ease, you should not be in an algebra-type class, and if you show your work there is little chance to make a +-/ or * mistake as they are easy to see. And besides, if a kid did use this on a test how is it cheating because they were allowed to use the device which means all functions thereof including eastereggs.

ticalcs tend to have that hardware issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12762772)

if you press 3 keys at once on a ti, the 4th key is thought of as being pressed as well, where the 4th key completes a rectangle on the calculator key grid. This is a similar thing, just less keys required because in the corner

Why issue calculators at all? (1)

Skippy_kangaroo (850507) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762778)

I think the question is - why issue calculators at all?

I think it is perfectly acceptable to require students to have a level of mental arithmetic ability - it is the first check that you've done something stupid when using a calculator or computer or whatever. However, if the point is to test students mental abilities then write the test so that it don't include sections that require calculators to complete and make sure it can all be done using mental arithmetic (or pen and paper arithmetic as the case may be - being a first step towards mental arithmetic).

I see minimal benefit in testing whether someone can use a calculator properly. It's about as useful as testing that someone can use Word. These are not the skills that are going to get you a job or even add to your education. They are dead end tasks that only ever fulfil a supporting role in whatever it is that you are doing. There are better things to be teaching student and they already have too many things they are required to learn.

changed (-1, Offtopic)

m85476585 (884822) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762784)

HP just changed to TI in the post!

Expensive? (3, Funny)

MushMouth (5650) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762785)

They were $8.00 each.

And I suppose they will give them back!? (5, Insightful)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762788)

Seriously, what motivation is there to return a device in exchange for one with less functionality? How do they expect this "recall" to work? Would any of you send your calculator back?

just asking

Flaw? (2, Funny)

centauri (217890) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762796)

It sounds like an undisclosed feature, not a flaw.

Hello? (3, Funny)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762800)

Why in the fuck would someone return anything because it worked too well?

It reminds me of that 200 mpg car urban legend.


That goes to show you (2, Interesting)

ironicsky (569792) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762808)

The education system in some places is pure crap.

In my junior high/high school years(7-12) We rarely got to use calculators. Even in our pre-calculus course, if we got caught using a calculator during a test, exam or inclass assignment we were as good as failed.

This wasn't decades ago, I graduated 2002.

People shouldnt rely on calculators to do simple math like fractions.

Used to do stuff like this (1)

toddestan (632714) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762813)

I found back in middle school that you could do some strange stuff with the solar TI calculators if you starved them of light until they almost shut off, and then uncover the solar panels (works best while the calculator is busy computing 69!). Most of the time, the calculator would lock up with garbage on the display or simply shut off. But sometimes it would come back - but with the layout of a simular model (like the TI-30 would suddenly be a TI-30 STAT). Other times, it would enter modes not found on the TI-30, like octal mode (present on the TI-36).

Yeah, I was pretty bored back then.

MATH menu --> ">Frac" (1, Insightful)

codergeek42 (792304) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762818)

Duh? Isn't that on almost every TI calculator? O.o

Re:MATH menu -- "Frac" (1)

urbster1 (871298) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762856)

It was on mine, and I milked that for all it was worth. That function was one of the main reasons I got mine.

Calculators? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12762819)

Why are we giving kids calculators for math exams? If you need to use a calculator in order to prevent people from making simple mistakes in a calculation, you either need to provide simpler numeric values or allow kids to specify non-numerical results.

State issued calculators? (1)

uberdave (526529) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762827)

The state is issuing calculators? Man, I need to move to Virginia and enroll in grade 6. This [] is a much better calculator than my current one.

Why even have calculators? (1)

DigitalCrackPipe (626884) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762845)

Despite having an expensive TI-89 in college, I had to buy a cheapo four-function calculator for a class in collge. Why? We were given the choice, and if we used good calculators the tests would be much, much harder.

So, if I can do college-level engineering without a fancy calculator, wtf do these kids need them for? If you don't learn what you're doing before punching things into a calculator, you'll never understand what's going on. Calculators should not be allowed at all for standardized tests until the kids are tested on concepts more complicated than what a calculator can do for them.

And yet they don't care... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12762867)

about programmable graphing calculators that can be programmed to hold ALL your semester's geometric and algebraic functions and generate an accurate graph without having to plot points? That's how I breezed through those classes in `91-92. Now my poor Casio 3000FXGA sits with three dead batteries :^(

Tech in the classroom (2, Insightful)

aaronl (43811) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762878)

If we're lucky, perhaps this sort of problem will inspire someone to take a look at exactly how tech is used in the classroom. Giving kids calculators and computers and etc. seems like a good idea. However, while it is important that kids learn how to use technology, it's much more important that they can do these things without it.

When I was in school, I remember thinking how cool it was that I could use a calculator in 9th grade math. Then after trying to use one, not only did I find that I could do it faster without it, but that I learned the math better. I carried that attitude through calculus, and I'm very glad that I did.

Now we have a generation of kids that can't do basic math, can't spell, and don't know grammer. What a great help that tech has been for them in school! All the teaching aids in the world don't turn a bad teacher into someone that can educate your children. Don't let elementary school kids write papers on the computer, they don't get handwriting, spelling, or grammer practice. They just learn the computer will fix it for them. Don't let them use calculators for their math, because they just learn that calculators will do math for them, so they don't need to know it.

There is a proper way to use these things in the classroom. A word processor in English class is wrong, just as a calculator is in basic math class. Once you get to a Lit class or advanced math, the tools are useful in teaching more effectively.

Also, Someone mentioned log books in another post as being a shortcut tool. So are sliderules, but try doing logs sanely without one or the other. What you learned to use logs for was a shortcut to doing long-hand division and multiplications... after you learned how to do that math anyway.

If you really want to cheat... (1)

delirium of disorder (701392) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762879)

The actual electronics of a ti-89 will fit perfectly well in a ti-83+ case (at least this worked with the old black models, I don't know about the new translucent ones). You have to re-learn what some of the keys are, since the labels will be off, but overall, it's an easy way to sneak the most powerful calculator available into standardized tests that ban it. It's not too difficult to write an assembler program that emulates the ti-83 home screen on the ti-89, if you are extra paranoid. I wonder if I could profitably sell a couple of these cheater calculators on ebay?

Disallow Calculators Altogether? (1)

killdashnine (651759) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762885)

Personally, I think that allowing kids to use calculators as much as we do is pathetic. There's a lot to be said for focus on mental technique.

Not long ago I was talking to my Grandma who expressed total disgust at a cashier who couldn't figure out that there'd been an addition mistake. Grandma could calculate the number in her head, but the cashier basically said, "The machine says ...".

Calculators are a tool, not a crutch. If the students are doing too many calculations on a test so that they're necessary, I say revise the tests to allow time for mental or manual calculations and give them some scrap paper!

flaw or "flaw"? (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762894)

flaw in the headline should have been written as "flaw" in my opinion, because what they are talking about is not a flaw as such. It is a "flaw." See the difference?

Off-Topic(?): Decimal to Fraction Algorithm? (1)

ewhac (5844) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762906)

Funny that this story should pop up about a calculator that will automatically convert a decimal representation into a fraction. I was trying to address this very issue yesterday, only in slightly different form.

Basically, given a fractional value between 0 and 1, find two integers whose ratio most closely approximates the fractional value, and which will fit in a given bit width. This sort of thing is useful when trying to compute the integer coefficients to stuff into the registers of a PLL clock generator.

For a 10-bit range, you can just do a brute-force search (which is what I did), but for anything wider than 20 bits or so, it'd be nice to have an algorithm that converges on a solution quickly. If ever I was taught this in math class, it fell out of my brain long ago. Now I find out a TI calculator will apparently just do it.

So how's it done?


Well thank god! (1)

Frangible (881728) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762911)

Hurray for that. Because in the future, no one will have access to electronic tools to perform math calculations! You know what? Since graduating from college and doing professional programming, I've used math beyond algebra a total of zero times, and all that calculus I toiled so hard over? Completely useless. But I do know how to use my calculator still. And the very few professions that actually do use advanced mathematics... do you think they do the work by hand? No, they do it on a computer or calculator. Sorry, but institutionalized math instruction is largely useless at higher levels to most people and is an end only to itself, taught because of artificial importance placed upon it by people with bias, who are so anachronistic they can't even accept the fact technology has made most of their instruction obsolete.

Re-fractionate (1)

atrus (73476) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762914)

You know there is a kid out there that will figure out how to reconnect the disabled buttons, or swap the logic board from a regular 30xa into the case of the special version. Instant fraction satisfaction.

Drop your god damn prices (1)

evilned (146392) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762925)

I would like to kick the person who is in charge of Texas Instruments calculators in the genitals repeatedly. These damned things haven't increased in processing power, display or anything to warrant the price that they get for these damned things. They do the same thing they did 10 years ago and they haven't dropped in price.

Impressive school system (1)

MavEtJu (241979) | more than 9 years ago | (#12762926)

It's an impressive school system if the math problems given to kids 14 years are so difficult that you need a calculator for it.

I didn't need one (nor get one) until I was thought physics and chemistry where they have all these weird kind of not-so-easy-to-add/substract/multiply/divide values.
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