Friday Freebee: Graphing a Solution
What’s a better buy than loading up on a classroom’s worth of scientific graphing calculators for a science or math class at $100 each? How about saving a bucket of cash by getting a graphing calculator app for a room of iPads or iPhones.
The current crop of graphing calculator programs do everything that a Casio, HP or TI calculator can do yet are downloadable for free or for next to nothing. They offer the bonus of brighter, higher resolution screens, color and the ability to minutely manipulate numbers, functions and graphs.
They both work with either of the first two generations of iPads as well as iPhones, and can fill a classroom with numbers, functions and graphs.
All is not perfect because they can’t offer a physical keypad. The way you interact with the software is via the device’s display and on-screen keyboard. The interfaces are well laid out, but I have to admit missing the buttons.
Plus, none of them are allowed to be used on the SAT and other standardized tests, but give it time. One of these two apps belongs in every math or science classroom.
Free Graphing Calculator, Version 2.1
Few products are as well named as William Jockusch’s Free Graphing Calculator. It is not only available for nothing but it can transform an iPhone or iPad into a high-end calculator for a science or math class. Its interface mimics a handheld calculator with a keypad-based screen and a place to type in equations for graphing.
The app excels at graphing with the ability to add a large assortment of functions and then type in the details you want to graph. The program can overlay several functions in different colors on an x-y grid to show patterns and illustrate concepts.
My favorite is the extensive array of constants that will prove very helpful for using it in a physics class. There’s also a very useful reference guide that explains many basic math concepts, including the rules for differentiation.
On the downside, the program was written for an iPhone and can be upsized to fill an iPad’s screen, although it can get a little fuzzy.
Graphing Calculator Pro, Version 1.1
The free version of Graphing Calculator Pro from deftapps is more than enough for most high school classes. Like Free Graphing Calculator, it was designed for an iPhone, but its display can be doubled to fill an iPad display. It does get a bit blurry, though.
The input interface resembles that of the Free Graphing Calculator with the ability to use the calculator’s keypad, type in equations or grab premade functions and graph them. A big step forward is that the program lets you set colors from a nearly limitless palette and the trace mode lets you grab min-max data as well as roots or intersections. On the other hand, it lacks the Free Graphing Calculator’s extensive math reference material and you can graph only in portrait mode.
The free version of the app should be plenty for most classroom uses, but the paid version of the software allows an unlimited number of plots on the same coordinates, the ability to find intersections for all equation types and the ability to use the graphing in portrait and landscape orientations. There’s also a cool polynomial equation solver.
In other words, at $1, the paid version of the app adds up for education.