Education Technology

Getting Started and Graphing Fundamentals

Published on 06/09/2008

Activity Overview

In this activity, students explore the important computational, algebraic, tabular, and editing features of the TI-86, with simple numerical examples. They also investigate its advanced graphing capabilities.

Before the Activity

  • See the attached PDF file for detailed instructions for this activity
  • Print pages 1 - 22 from the attached PDF file for the class
  • During the Activity

    Distribute the pages to the class.

    Follow the Activity procedures:

  • Explore how to enter and edit values for variables in the Compound Interest formula and calculate the amount present after 15 years for the investment
  • Change the values and compute the new amount
  • Store the values for the variables in the formula and compute the amount present after 15 years


  • Use the Table feature to tabulate how a principal amount invested at a particular rate compounded monthly grows each year
  • Specify the function, and the starting and incrementing values
  • Generate the table of values


  • Enter the function(s) in the graphing editor and set the window settings to view the graph
  • Experiment with the seven different graphing styles available
  • Use the Trace feature to determine the intersection point of two graphed functions
  • With the help of the zoom-in feature, get better estimates of the coordinates of the intersection point
  • Understand how Zoom factors change the window values


  • Enter and graph a composite function y3 = y1 + y2
  • Observe that y1, y2, and y3 are graphed in sequence
  • Use the Select feature for graphing individual functions
  • Evaluate the graphed functions for values of x between xMin and xMax


  • Select options from the Format graph menu to alter the presentation of the graph
  • With the help of the ZSQR option, make the length of one unit on the x-axis equal to one unit on the y-axis
  • Improve the graphing resolution by understanding the Xres variable
  • After the Activity

    Students solve problems on the exercise page.

    Review student results:

  • As a class, discuss questions that appeared to be more challenging
  • Re-teach concepts as necessary