Grants Help Provide Graphing Calculators for Middle School Math Students


“The calculators help us because we can use them for challenging math problems or just simply checking a problem,” said Brie Dykstra.


She and classmate Trygg Hicswa said the calculators have many different uses like graphing and finding the table. “These calculators help us think about how to get to the problem and not just the answer.”


Students use the calculators by inputting numbers into the table and then having the calculator graph it and build the equation. Hicswa and Dykstra said the calculators make the problems easier to understand and are a time save when solving problems.


“We don’t have to write everything out. We can use the calculators,” said Ellie Baranek. “It saves a lot of time.”


“It also makes it easier to understand because you can see the graph and understand the equation better,”  said Cameron  Walter.


The small group of students said they wanted to thank the Wilson H. Craig fund and Thornapple Area Enrichment Foundation for the grant money to buy more calculators - enough so that every student in the class has access to one. 


“It means a lot. We appreciate it,” said Hicswa.


The grants were awarded to middle school math teacher Shelly Siekman. She said in today’s classrooms it is imperative for all students to have access to the same resources. They can use the calculators to analyze characteristics of functions, compare and contrast functions and create coherent representations of mathematical models for real world situations. 


Between the two grants, Siekman received a total of $1,049 to purchase approximately 15 calculators to add to the number of existing calculators providing enough calculators to fully equip two eighth-grade algebra classes and possibly share devices with other classes as well.