By Tech Powered Dad | January 23, 2011
Click here to buy the TI-73 Explorer on Amazon and get free shipping.
If you are looking into Texas Instruments line of graphing calculators, you’ve probably noticed that almost everything but the TI-Nspire ends with an “80-something.” Recently, I’ve reviewed the TI-83 plus, the TI-84 plus, and the TI-89 Titanium. However, there is a noticeable exception to this rule, the TI-73 Explorer. It seemed like it was time to get a TI-73 review up. The TI-73 is not designed with the same target audience in mind as most other Texas Instruments graphing calculators, and I felt a review could really help people understand what’s unique about the TI-73.
Who Is the TI-73 Explorer Designed For?
The TI-73 is something of a novel concept in the graphing calculator world. For the most part, graphing calculators have been designed for high school, college, and beyond. With the TI-73 Explorer, however, Texas Instruments has designed a graphing calculator specifically for middle school students. This calculator was made with the upper elementary through middle school student in mind, so you will find that its features are easy to use and designed with the kinds of math activities a student would see in middle school in mind. Some of the very advanced features one would need in an advanced high school or college class have been stripped out for the sake of simplification.
What I Like About the TI-73 Explorer
First off, Texas Instruments really did do a great job of creating something for younger students. It’s not just that the calculator is more colorful than more advanced TI models. Fractions were made easy to do. At a time when most TI calculators defaulted to decimals, the TI-73 handles fractions wonderfully and by default. This can make them less intimidating for students who often find fractions challenging. Additionally, the TI-73 comes equipped with a charts and graphs mode. Anybody who has experience with middle school math knows that charts and graphs are a big part of the curriculum.
Texas Instruments has also made a wonderful set of free TI-73 apps available on their website. Some of these apps are the same as popular TI-84 apps such as Guess My Coefficients and Smile Math. However, many of them are exclusive to the TI-73 Explorer and are perfect for middle school students like a Geoboard app, Puzzle Tanks, and Building Perspectives. If your child hangs onto the TI-73 into high school, there’s even a Matrices app to extend its functionality.
And fortunately, like all Texas Instruments graphing calculators these days, the TI-73 Explorer has an upgradeable operating system. That means any time Texas Instruments issues and update, you can go to the TI website and upgrade your calculator for free. The calculator itself is also affordable, much less than that of a TI-Nspire, which is important since most students will need to upgrade at some point during high school.
Bottom Line TI-73 Explorer Review
The TI-73 Explorer is a wonderful device for upper elementary and middle school students, and it’s pretty much the only graphing calculator targeted at that audience. I highly recommend it. Of course, if you have a 5th or 6th grader and are considering buying a TI-73, you should go for it.
But what if you have an 8th grader? That’s more of a judgement call. If you are comfortable buying a calculator that you will probably turn around and sell on Ebay in a year or two, then again I say go for it. If you’d rather get a Texas Instruments calculator that will last through high school and beyond, read my article reviewing the TI-Nspire. Otherwise, pick up a TI-73 on Amazon.
Please click here to buy the TI-73 Explorer on Amazon and get free shipping.
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