Ah, early August. ‘Tis the season of back-to-school shopping. For those of us of a certain age, it calls to mind the nostalgia of picking out preferred patterns of Lisa Frank notebooks and taking the leap to invest in snazzy mechanical pencils with a twist-to-dispense extra lead pack.
Sometime during the middle school and high school years, one specific investment asked of students was the Texas Instruments graphing calculator. This device led to a level of excitement not usually elicited by a class requirement, for a “grown-up” calculator came with some under-the-radar perks. It was a right of passage; it meant you were advancing in the right direction not just in math curriculum, but on your life path. Once you got that fancy calculator in your hands, visions of college classes danced in front of your aspiring eyes.
The TI graphing calculator line has evolved throughout the times, but perhaps the most iconic model was the TI-85. Lesser known fact: the TI-85 was the first TI calculator with assembly programming ability. Students just had to find the loophole that allowed it to be “hacked.”
Reasons We Loved Our TI-85 Calculators Then
Parents, teachers, and students alike all enjoyed the TI-85. If you could master plotting equations, then solving for “x” became the simple task of just looking for your given y-value on the graph. Problems that used to take the length of an entire math class and a half sheet of paper to solve were handled with a series of sleek, skilled finger taps.
Each student had to purchase their own TI calculator, which led to all kinds of personalization. We used stickers or paint pens to decorate the TI-85, or choose from the various color options offered with the later models. I personally selected a bright-and-shiny hot pink for my TI-84 (and a classmate scribbled a message to me inside the lid that remains there to this day).
Because a TI calculator was a school-approved device, you could ACTUALLY have it out on your desk without breaking any class rules (unlike cell phones or Game Boys). However—between built-in games like Snake and Tetris, leetspeak, and the ability to spell certain words by typing numbers and turning your calculator upside down—there were plenty of opportunities to play and pass messages to friends.
Fast forward to 2018, and there’s a new kid on the back-to-school tech block. Our small-but-mighty Evo shares lots of similarities with the TI-85, just with new technology mixed in and an ease of use that brings programming to all, not just the lucky few able to hack their calculators.
Why We Love Evo Now
There are two ways to code with Bluetooth-enabled Evo: Color Codes and OzoBlockly. OzoBlockly visual programming has levels from Beginner to Master (and even an option for Pre-Readers), making it easy for anyone to start programming with Evo. Work your way up to Advanced OzoBlockly, and you’ll find math blocks, variables, functions, and more!
Evo owners can personalize their avatars in the Evo app, unlocking new avatars the more they create and code. They can also change up their Evo’s physical appearance with Marvel Action Skins and DIY Packs, which come with blank skins, stickers, and accessories that make for infinite creative combinations.
The Evo app houses games like OzoLaunch, plus you can create your own games with Color Codes or OzoBlockly. There’s also a chat feature in the app that lets you send and receive Ozoji—#BuiltWithOzoBlockly emoticons that Evo acts out!
The TI-85 graphing calculator may have ruled the school supply shopping of yesteryear, but look no further than Evo for today’s hottest back-to-school tech!
Images: Ozobot, © mrmohock