Why Are There Still Graphing Calculators?

One of the things that I really thought would be replaced by the time my own kids got into high school were Graphing Calculators. In the age of Smart Phones, Tablets, and laptops, Graphing Calculators should have gone the way of the Dodo, right?


We got our son’s stationary list for grade-10 and a $229.00 Graphing Calculator is listed as a required item! The school already requires him to have a laptop, and now they want us to shell out another $229 for a calculator!

Sorry about all the exclamation points, but come on, a graphing calculator in 2017?

I realise that it isn’t actually up to the school, but rather it is a government testing requirement, but come on, a $100 tablet could run circles around the processing power of a graphing calculator, as could the ambiguous smartphone that nearly every teenager already has!

We also need to realise that requiring the purchase of a graphing calculator creates an accessibility problem for lower income families.

To see what else is available out there I researched and downloaded an app called Desmos. Desmos has actually been approved in 14 US states for use during tests. They have partnered with testing companies for the use of the their app, and it seems to be a great option. You can use the online version and check it out on their web-site, and it’s also available on Android and iOS.

Not only does this app do everything that a graphing calculator does, but it actually does more. You can zoom in on the graphs and you can “slide” the values to see how it affects the graphs.

Oh yeah, and the Desmos app is FREE!

Unfortunately we are stuck purchasing a $229.00 graphing calculator for our eldest son as it’s the only way that he can take the government tests. I am hoping that maybe by the time our youngest is in high-school we’ll be able to use the more powerful, and much cheaper app …

2 thoughts on “Why Are There Still Graphing Calculators?

  1. Dorothy Rich

    So how would security be handled? Students couldn’t use a device with texting and internet capabilities on a test. I would love to switch to just Desmos.

  2. Bill Hutchison Post author

    Desmos actually allows their graphing calculator to be embedded into online testing assessments, which in a testing environment can allow the system to be locked just to the test.

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