Students are reaching for their phones in math class, as smartphones and apps are replacing calculators.
A free app called Desmos allows a free graphing calculator to be downloaded onto a phone to use in the classroom and at home. Smartphones and apps are replacing the clunky and expensive TI-84 calculators that students had to buy in the past. Now they can download the app for the graphing calculator, and update it as necessary.
Students in Sara Van Der Werf’s advanced algebra class at South High can zoom into graphs of equations, touch curves that show maximums and minimums, and solve equations without having to buy a costly calculator.
“I saw it almost immediately as kind of an equity game-changer for students everywhere,” said Van Der Werf.
Teachers across the district are using the online calculator app. Desmos is a San Francisco company which launched the online calculator in 2012. The app followed in 2014. According to Christopher Danielson, member of Desmos’ teaching faculty, the calculator and the app are used worldwide.
Graphing calculators are available in Van DerWerfs classroom, but her class has been using Desmos oh phones for a year. She says that the cost of the TI-84, manufactured by Texas Instruments, can put some students at an disadvantage. The graphing calculators can cost over $100.