Saturday, July 12, 2008

Who Says Math Isn't Fun?

The teen had a problem. He's on the last chapter of the Algebra II book and finally decided that he really needed a new calculator. Up until that point he'd been making due with a $30 calculator that he'd had for the past few years; but after spending a few months pressing 13 keys to get to the answer that a nicer calculator would reach with just one key, he asked for a new calculator.

Seemed like a simple enough request. He's about to start a pre-calculus book and needed a stronger calculator. How hard could it be? Super mom would just check with her trusty online buddies and see which calculator was best and then go to the local Target and buy one.

Whoa, slow down. Not as simple a task as one would assume. Finding out which calculator was needed was easy (TI 84 Plus), but life is not so cooperative. Super mom loaded up the two youngest kids and headed off to Target.

First, any calculator over $40 was locked up, and on the bottom racks. Old ladies can't just bend over, adjust their bifocals, and read the specifics on a calculator when it's only 2 feet from the ground. Especially when the princess takes any bending over of mom to mean that it's time for a piggy back ride.

After finding a very nice employee to unlock the calculators, Super mom realized that not only was there a TI 84 Plus; there was also a TI 84 Plus Silver and a TI 84 Plus Platinum! The nice employee unlocked all three security racks and let me look at all of them at one time. Unfortunately, she also insisted on standing right beside me to make sure I didn't loose my mind and create some kind of havoc in the store.

So there I stood, three calculators in hand; the princess and the smiling child alternately standing next to me and bounding off down the isle; trying to decide which one of the TI 84 Plus calculators I wanted. I couldn't see any difference on the key pad, so I bought the cheapest one, figuring that if it wouldn't work for calculus it would work for the middle child to use in Algebra next year.

I paid my $100 for the calculator and brought it home - quite proud of my achievement. The teen looked at the calculator through that lovely, only a nuclear blast will open it plastic packaging, and said that it didn't have the key he was looking for. We looked through the 200 some page instruction manual and decided that the key was apparently no longer needed in the math world and he should just skip that problem in the book.

Another catastrophe averted.

Just to show that he was actually using and loving his calculator, the teen came in this morning and showed me what he could do with his fancy new calculator - here's a picture.

Oy vey.

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