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The TI-84 graphing calculator. In snoburbia, every student in Algebra 1 or above is required to have one - at $99.99 apiece.

The TI-84 is a gold mine - but not for math. The real benefit is that snoburban dads can use it to drop how advanced their kids are in math. Bonus! For example, this recent listserv request: "Does anyone have a TI-84 calculator for my 7th grade daughter who's in Algebra I?" Or this article disguised as a rant against the costly TI-83:

I turned to my Daughter. She's just finished 9th grade pre-International Baccalaureate Geometry, and also has a mandatory TI-83 graphing calculator.

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Some enterprising youths have made a killing on eBay with my son's TI-83 calculators - four stolen in two years. My husband is convinced he has bought back the exact same calculator four times.

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Sorry, I'm getting old. My father received a calculator as a graduation gift. I was maybe $500 and it could add, subtract, multiply and divide. When I was in high school, I had a Radio Shack programmable calculator that was so novel that my French teacher agreed that I could use it for my test, doubtful that it would be any advantage: I programmed in conjugations and got only of my only good grades in the class. Let's see what TI has to offer when my girls get to the 7th grade...

Posted by: Kradak Thomas | August 31, 2010 at 05:02 PM

Funny, when I was taking those classes in HS and college, graphing calculators were prohibited because (a) they were programmable and students could bring in notes or share questions with friends taking the test later and (b) we were expected to LEARN how to graph. I can still plot a mean hyperbola . . .

Posted by: Amused Visitor from NoVA | November 03, 2010 at 08:50 AM

After 10 years those calculators still have not dropped in price...supply and demand is awesome. In 1995 my mother was shocked that a $100 calculator was a requirement and of course a new and better edition came out before I graduated. Once I got to college all engineering majors needed a TI-89 for calc and of course differential equations and linear algebra. Who would ever do matrices by hand, lol.

Posted by: Tara | November 03, 2010 at 12:41 PM

I can second the comments on prices. I remember getting my TI-83 (no plus!) in 7th grade at about $100. Almost fifteen years later, I'm in grad school and still using the thing, and it would (still) cost me $100 to replace it.

Posted by: Jessica | November 03, 2010 at 01:05 PM

I'm the underachiever. I am. If you weren't taking Algebra 1 in 8th grade you were a loser (there were only like 5 kids who took Algebra 1 in 7th grade) and I was taking Math C or Pre-Algebra 1 in 8th grade. The school had put the TI-83 calculator on the back-to-school supplies list, and as much as I told my mother that I would not need the thing for another year, she bought it anyway because "you never know". I didn't need it that year. By the time 9th grade rolled around, the new TI-83+ and the TI-84 calculators came about, and I wanted one of them because you could change the colors... so I tried to hide the calculator she had gotten the year before. She found it. I still have it, granted I need it for Algebra 2 this year (I'm a senior taking Algebra 2... I don't meet the 7 keys to success) but whatever.

Posted by: Nekole | January 23, 2011 at 02:46 AM