If you've just picked up a new TI-84 plus, one of your first questions is probably, "What are the best apps this thing?" There are many. In fact, the TI-84+ (especially Silver Edition) comes loaded with a lot of junk you'll probably never use because many of the preloaded apps are for languages you don't speak. That said, there are a few true gems in there, a combination of puzzles, games, and apps that will just plain make your math class easier. Here are my favorite 6 apps for the TI-84+. If they're not preloaded on your calculator, all of them are available free from the Texas Instruments website.
(NOTE: These apps should all work on a TI-83+, but the memory is very limited so they won't all fit on the calculator at the same time).
#1 Polynomial Root Finder and Simultaneous Equation Solver v2.0
The TI-84 doesn't have all of the algebra capabilities of a TI-89 or TI-Nspire CAS, but "PlySmlt2" helps make up for some of that. The polynomial root finder (lesson here) can solve simple linear equations, quadratic equations, or any polynomial up to a degree of 10 with fractions or decimals and real or imaginary answers. The simultaneous equations solver solves systems of equations from the intersection of two lines up to 10 equations and 10 unknowns.
This is the ultimate puzzle and game app for the TI-84+. It includes 4 games, Dino Puzzle, Puzzle Frenzy, Pegs, and the incredibly popular Block Dude. Just be careful not to get too addicted. You wouldn't want to get in trouble for playing this in class.
Flash cards go high tech with this app. You can use the preloaded cards, dowload additional stacks of cards from the Texas Instruments website, or even create your own cards. The TI-84 plus silver edition even comes with stacks of ACT and SAT practice problems preloaded onto it.
#4 Guess My Coefficients
This app is fantastic for algebra through pre-calculus students learning how to graph lines, parabolas, and absolute value functions. A graph appears on the screen, and, it's your job to guess its coefficients. An animated trace of your guess appears, hopefully retracing the original graph. This is especially good for learning how the slope and y-intercept interact with lines, and reinforces similar concepts with quadratics and absolute values.
As any advanced algebra or pre-calculus student will tell you, conics sections can be a confusing topic. This app makes them easier. You can choose from any of the four conic sections (circle, parabola, ellipse, and hyperbola) to input your equation. The TI-84+ will then graph and trace them.
#6 Solve It!
This app presents an equation with two variables and an x vs. y chart to fill in missing values. It's a more fun way to practice a problem that has been around since before the very first algebra textbook.
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