The other day one of my friends was visiting Staples to observe the chaos of last minute back-to-school shopping. As he walked through the store he noticed an end-cap display of $100 graphic scientific calculators on sale of $89.
Right next to the calculators was a display of $59 Android tablets.
Both of us had the same question: Why would anyone buy a calculator for $100 when they could have a tablet for the same or less money?
Plenty of Apps for That
The Google Play store offers at least 20 graphing calculator options for Android, most of them free. Several are available for iPad/iPhone and even the Google Chrome browser for Windows offers six free graphing calculators.
Most of these calculator apps offer similar functionality to the standard calculator and take up no space in a student’s backpack.
School 1:1 Programs Save Parents Money
We asked Dennis-Yarmouth Superintendent Carol Woodbury about the state of graphic calculators in her school district. D-Y, you may recall, has initiated a 1:1 distribution of iPads which has now spread from eighth to tenth grade.
Ms. Woodbury reports, “There are graphic calculators on all iPads Grade 8-10. They were free.”
We also asked Monomoy Superintendent Scott Carpenter about graphic calculators for the Chromebooks that were distributed in grades 8-12 this year. He did not respond to our email.
Speaking at least for Dennis-Yarmouth, the deployment of iPads has saved many high school parents $90-$100 on calculator purchases.
What Do Other School Districts Say?
If other Cape school districts would like to talk about old-school calculators or how Chromebook or tablet deployments are saving money, we would love to showcase their programs. Email me (wb-at-eCape.com) with any material you’d like to share.