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Ask Slashdot: What To Do With Found Calculators? 302

Posted by timothy
from the compare-them-for-accuracy dept.
New submitter Covalent writes "I'm a science teacher and have, over the years, accumulated a number of lost graphing calculators (mostly TI-83s). After trying to locate the owners, I have given up and have been loaning them out to students as needed. I want to something more nerd-worthy with them, though. I would feel wrong for selling them. What is the best use for bunch of old calculators?"
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do With Found Calculators?

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  • by Jerry Smith (806480) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:33AM (#41299557) Homepage Journal

    You're loaning them to the needy. Doing good can be nerdy too.

    • by oPless (63249) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:38AM (#41299653) Journal

      Mod parent up. You *are* doing the "right thing"(tm)

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        Yeah but it sounds like he has TOO MANY graphing calculators. Rather than leave them around to grow old & obsolete, I would save one for a "loaner" in class, and sell the rest on amazon or ebay. Then dump the money into the student council treasury so it can benefit the students. (Alternatively if I'm the type of teacher who spends my Own money to buy school supplies, I'd designate the money for that purpose.)

        • by xclr8r (658786)
          Donate them to a needy high school/middle school. They will get more use out of them that way then some stupid project that cannibalizes them for a one off project that will get thrown away or never get completed.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You're loaning them to the needy. Doing good can be nerdy too.

      Now we know where the calculators go: is this not the very definition of calculator heaven?

    • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @10:11AM (#41300115)
      Absolutely! Loan them to students who need them. There is no better use.
    • That is what I was figuring. You are a science teacher. You have a supply of calculators that you can loan, what else do you need to do with them.

      I mean if you have a huge inventory of them you can share them with other science teachers to share too.

      Ti-83's while useful they are only really good for 11th grade-12th grade students. Once you go to college they normally require the higher end calculators (If they still do so, I would except they may be using Matlab or Maple)

      In theory they could go to an unp

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        So just share them with your peers who may have a student forget or loose their calculator.

        Really helpful - offer them as loaners as well if needed for homework.

        You can also erase their memory and enforce their usage during tests and finals, too - no calculators allowed - they will be provided for you.

        But loaning them out is the perfect scenario - if you have too many, offer them to the math and science classes so they can have loaners as well.

        Depending on the principal, you might be able to have them as sc

        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          You can also erase their memory and enforce their usage during tests and finals, too - no calculators allowed - they will be provided for you.

          "I failed Mr. Smith's final exam because he forced me to use one of his fancy calculators that I don't know how to use, instead of allowing me to use my old four-function one that I have been using all year."

          I've seen the result of loaning calculators to students, although not this drastic. I was a TA for a chemistry class and during one quiz a student forgot his calculator. He asked to borrow mine. His: TI. Mine: HP. Seeing '1' as the concentration of hydrogen ions in a buffer solution: priceless. (I.e.

      • by Urza9814 (883915)

        Ti-83's while useful they are only really good for 11th grade-12th grade students. Once you go to college they normally require the higher end calculators (If they still do so, I would except they may be using Matlab or Maple)

        Just graduated last May, B.S. in Comp Sci from Penn State University so I took a fair bit of math and science -- and I can't remember a single math class that _permitted_ calculators in class, let alone _required_ them! As for sciences -- I think you were permitted something like a TI-34 if you REALLY felt better having it (they made a point of stressing that the exams were designed to be done without one), but nothing more advanced than that. Graphing calculators were strictly forbidden. Maybe if you're ge

  • GOP (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:34AM (#41299565)

    Send one to Paul Ryan - he could do with help with his math

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:34AM (#41299567)

    I think that loaning them out to needy students is the best possible use for them. Don't change a thing!

  • Build a (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:35AM (#41299587)

    Beowulf Cluster

  • how many? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stranger_to_himself (1132241) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:36AM (#41299605) Journal

    I also have a number of graphing calculators. That number being 1. How many is 'a number'! If its a complex or irrational number, your post would be more interesting. Otherwise, apart from some kind of modern art installation, the calculator lending library you already have seems like a good answer.

    • If you have more than you regularly lend out, give the rest to a library that will loan out the rest. You'd be surprised what libraries will lend sometimes. Our local library even loans out fishing poles and equipment.

  • by jfdavis668 (1414919) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:37AM (#41299629)
    Imagine a Beowulf Cluster of these!
    • by rjr162 (69736)

      You mean like this?
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Mjn98Bs2Cg

    • Considering the means of connectivity for a TI-83, the best you can hope for is a bus network.

  • by Revotron (1115029) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:38AM (#41299639)
    There are plenty of kids out there whose parents won't justify spending $100 on anything educational, so just keep those calculators on hand in your classroom and loan them out to students who need them. In doing so, you're giving underprivileged kids the same resources that more well-off children always have at their disposal, and hopefully by having the same tools as their peers, you can keep them engaged, interested, and learning.

    That's nerd-worthy to me.
    • +1 Insightful to the parent As a fellow nerd in education, keep doing what you are doing as long as it's effective. If you have a surplus of them, contact a colleague and see if they would like some to do the same. If they aren't a useful tool, sell them and buy something that is a useful tool for your students.
    • by Noughmad (1044096)

      There are plenty of kids out there whose parents won't justify spending $100 on anything educational

      I still don't see why anyone would need a $100 calculator. I am a Physics student, even been to an olympiad, so I have probably used a calculator more than most of my peers. However, I had a $20 Sharp from elementary school to university, and my classmates had similar ones. In all this time, I've never needed anything except basic arithmetic, angular/hyperbolic/log/exp functions and the value of pi.

      So, what have I been missing all these years?

  • Your duty is clear: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:38AM (#41299659) Journal

    CALCnet [cemetech.net] allows networking of TI-83 and similar calculators with relatively simple external hardware.

    With that detail out of the way, you are free to implement a display-wall and/or the most powerful z80 cluster computer in the known universe.

    Extra credit, of course, will be awarded if you succeed in writing an xorg driver that can treat an MxN array of networked calculators as a greyscale display of appropriate resolution.

    • by KermMartian (707470) <kerm_martian@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @10:19AM (#41300227) Homepage

      CALCnet [cemetech.net] allows networking of TI-83 and similar calculators with relatively simple external hardware.

      With that detail out of the way, you are free to implement a display-wall and/or the most powerful z80 cluster computer in the known universe.

      Extra credit, of course, will be awarded if you succeed in writing an xorg driver that can treat an MxN array of networked calculators as a greyscale display of appropriate resolution.

      As the author of that hack, I solidly second that suggestion. We also have a bunch of other calculator hacking projects that might interest you, like case-modding, adding features likes backlights, PS/2 ports, a touchpad, etc. There was the FloppyTunes project ( http://www.cemetech.net/projects/item.php?id=38 [cemetech.net] ) that lets you play music on a floppy drive with a calculator. Since you have so many calculators, though, CALCnet would be fun to play with, and since we're always looking for people to help with a wireless version of CALCnet, that might be something fun. And no one has written a distributed computation system with CALCnet yet!

  • by PPH (736903) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:39AM (#41299663)

    ... check with your school policies on handling lost and found crap. I assume these were lost on school property, so the school has a say in their disposition.

    Loaning is probably OK, but before you donate or otherwise give up possession, check the rules.

    • by Rockoon (1252108)

      ... check with your school policies on handling lost and found crap. I assume these were lost on school property, so the school has a say in their disposition.

      I would suggest that even though the school may have a policy, it is the law that has a say.

      I would suggest that these calculators are not "lost" in the legal sense, but have been "mislaid" in the legal sense.

      Under "common law", ...

      Lost = owner dropped the item some place by accident
      Mislaid = owner forgot (where) to retrieve the item after setting it down

      In all likelihood, the only legal things to do are either (a) return them to where you found them, or (b) deliver them to the police. Option (a)

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:39AM (#41299685)

    I don't know about your school, but in every one of my middle school and high school math classes, students always needed more loaner calculators than they had. (my college banned calculators from math classes, which didn't really hurt since all I took was Calc II).

    If you find that students are consistently being responsible and bringing their own, I suggest donating them to another school, so they can get some use from them.

    There's not really anything interesting you can do with them - they aren't powerful enough to do anything other than do simple math, or perhaps play a mediocre Wolfenstein clone on (yes, it's real - google "ti-83 doom app"). The displays are shit, the processor is pathetic, and the input mechanism is severely lacking.

    • There's not really anything interesting you can do with them - they aren't powerful enough to do anything other than do simple math... The displays are shit, the processor is pathetic, and the input mechanism is severely lacking.

      Too bad they can't advance... my android phone is wayyyy more powerful, but for some on-the-fly number crunching, it's hard to beat a calculator with real, physical buttons.

      • I am a trifle surprised that nobody seems to have banged out a USB/bluetooth 'calculator keyboard' peripheral(external numpads are a dime a dozen; but I've never seen one with a scientific calculator's complement of operator symbols and things), since building HID devices to spit out whatever keycodes burned into their dinky little processors isn't a wildly expensive process; and would make phone or computer-based calculating a bit more comfortable.

        As for dedicated calculators, though, it seems most unlikel

  • Beowulf Clusters?

    Not because it's effective, but because you can!

  • by Idarubicin (579475) <allsquiet@hotmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:41AM (#41299709) Journal
    I hope that your school system isn't requiring its students to buy expensive graphing calculators out of their own (or their parents' own) pockets, but that's another diatribe.

    If you have more calculators than you need for your own lending program, and the other math teachers (if any) at your school are also adequately equipped, then share them with other schools in your area. There's probably a classroom not too far down the road - perhaps across the tracks? - where they don't have a large number of kids carelessly abandoning valuable electronics.

    • by gmarsh (839707) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @10:02AM (#41300031)

      Do this. Talk to the math teachers at your school, find out if they've got any poor students that need them. And find out there's any other schools in the area that would have a use for them.

      There's lots of single parents and otherwise poor families that can barely scrape together school supplies for their kids, let alone buy the graphic calculator that they would need to get into a precalc or AP math. Something simple like one of these old calculators could turn a kid's life around. Seriously.

  • by realsilly (186931) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:41AM (#41299715)

    Donate them to local Charities or over seas charities.
    The Lend them out program you're doing works well also.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      the TI-83 calculators for Africa foundation! Giving away calculators to people that need clean water. That way they can derive how thirsty they are.

  • by PhotonSphere (193108) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:44AM (#41299771) Homepage Journal

    Key in 5,318,008, turn the calculator upside down, then smile with fifth grade satisfaction.

    • The font is too good on the TI- series calculators. It doesn't look the same as the 7-segment characters.

    • Dude. It's a graphing calculator. I'm pretty sure you can draw any shape boobies you want with the right equation.
  • by jbeaupre (752124) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:47AM (#41299803)

    I dunno, how about checking what the latest nerd hipster chic is at BoingBoing and modifying the calculator accordingly?

    Let's see ...
    Cover in leather
    Paint to look like R2D2
    Haunted Mansion theme.

    Yeah, no shortage of nerd things to do to old crap.

    I'd avoid using tapeworms. But steam punk might still be acceptable in some circles.

  • I'd suggest finding a charity that would provide them to schools in Africa.

  • If they're solar, donate them to some third world schools.
  • We need to know

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:51AM (#41299859)

    Link them together and use them to mine bitcoins. You might need to pay a few students to type in the numbers, but you will be richly rewarded.

  • To teach in a district that has no needy kids and can all afford $100 for a graphing calculator. What's wrong with what you were doing and lending them out to kids who need them?
  • Where else would all the old calculators go?

  • To loan to his students. That's what mine does. And, who wants to spend $100 on a calculator they're only going to need in one class?

  • Keep on keepin' on (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:54AM (#41299905)

    Please keep doing what you're doing. I had my graphing calculator stolen in high school, and was not happy about having to shell out the cash for a new one. I had a test later that day that required one, so I went to the head of the department and she reached into a box marked "graduated" and pulled one out. She put every found calculator that came her way into a box labelled with that year. Four years later she moved it into the graduated box, understanding that the student had since left and would not be claiming their lost property. She simply handed me one and said not to worry about it. A decade later I still use it.

  • When you have enough, take them down to the calculator store and trade them for a good one that does RPN [wikipedia.org].

  • A beowulf cluster of these could surely run that japanese AI that's so good at passing math tests. Once your school's test scores rise, the federal government will give you more money. Profit.

  • or give them away to students who need them.

  • Put on Bubble Bobble 83 [dwedit.org] for some 2P link game action.

  • by rasmusbr (2186518) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @10:06AM (#41300065)

    As a matter of objective fact, the nerdiest thing you can do with a TI-83 is to write assembly programs for it on your PC, send them to the calculator through the proprietary* cable (if you've got one) and run them. If you don't have time to do it then maybe you have a student who has time. Challenge your students to write a simple program that draws something on the screen!

    *It goes without saying that it would be nerdier if you built your own cable and used that.

  • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @10:11AM (#41300103) Homepage

    A story I've kept for years as inspiration. A hundred points to anyone who can find the source:

    One of the best parts of high school was when my math teacher took a spare TI-83 and let me use it exclusively for the whole semester, under specific terms: Do something awesome with it, and he'd let me skip my final.

    Three weeks later, I'd written a small text adventure. A few weeks after that, I had a trading game with a complex market. By the end of the year, I had turned that same trading game into a graphical one, where the goal was to sail around the world buying low and selling high. The more money you had, the more likely you were to be attacked, which also took place in stunning 1-bit color graphics. The game's actions were controlled through a menu system, which was also used to launch the game (as opposed to the various tools I'd written to do my homework for me).

    He was impressed, and I was inspired. When I started applying to colleges, I finally knew what major I wanted: computer science.

    Keep loaning out those calculators. A student might need one, and not even realize it.

  • Make your own cloud [xkcd.com]
  • Create a clip of the song "I'm the operator with my pocket calculator".

  • You can try getting various zilog z80 based software to run on it
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zilog_Z80
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TI-83_series

    Oh, and keeping them as "loaners" for students who loose theirs or otherwise can't afford one would be awesome too. Times are tough.
  • Mathematics, of course!
    thank you, ill be here all weekend, tip your waitresses. try the fish.
  • I loaned one out to my cousin and never saw it again. I remember writing games for that thing too... checkers, reversi, hex, nym, etc. fun little basic programming environment with pixel-level graphics. (not too speedy though) So atm I just use my old TI-35 for basic stuff.

  • by Dynetrekk (1607735) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:12AM (#41300991)
    Quit using them in your teaching. Graphing calculators are the work of the devil. Kids spend a lot of energy learning something that is obsolete when outside schools, spend money on an overprised product (you can get a much more powerful netbook for the same price, ~ish), and wind up not learning how to do math by hand. That way, you'll stop finding old ones, too.

    Oh, and obigatory xkcd [xkcd.com].

nohup rm -fr /&

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