Article | Video Games; Perfect for Math
One of our favourite humour sites on Mathematics, had posted this image, recently. Or you have the proverbial water-tank which gets filled by a small tap and a large tap. Excruciatingly slow, especially when the tank’s really big. The problem with Maths is the statement of the Mathematical problem itself?
Could this be a possible reason why Mathematics becomes boring, and often difficult?
What happens when you connect the learning of Music and Mathematics together? Cross-curricular teaching has featured in a few of the lesson plans we have put together in the past.
Along comes an app that actually does this. Introducing Wuzzit Trouble:
The game fulfills one of the great promises of game based learning: the ability for a game to teach multiple skills simultaneously. That is not to say that everyone who plays will walk away having learned a multiplicity of skills, but rather that the game offers puzzles that work on multiple levels. Therefore, players are able to practice and develop math skills and comprehension appropriate to their particular age and skill level.
Devlin describes it as an “instrument on which to play mathematics.” He likens it to piano keyboard: you can’t help but learn something about music if you sit down and tinker. Manipulating the Wuzzit Trouble’s game mechanics is enacting the functions of arithmetic, in the same way that pressing a piano’s key creates tone. Put those functions together and you’re doing math. Put those tones together and you’ve made music.
While the Wuzzit Trouble app (requires and iPhone or an iPad) may not be a practical choice for all teachers and every classroom, the article raises the question regarding how we design learning, instruction, and activity for all subjects, not just Mathematics.
The article, linked above, is followed by an interview with Dr. Keith Devlin about the usefulness of video games “a much better representation system for learning mathematics than are symbolic representations on a static page.”
And he even talks of what this app means for teachers:
When we have the money, we’d like to prepare a teacher demo version of the game, probably in HTML5 for Web access, absent the glossy front end but with mathematical annotations, that a teacher can use in class for demonstrations. That would also require providing teachers with support: lesson plans, classroom ideas, etc.
We felt that the game is the game, and should hold its own among all the other games, and teaching is for the teacher. We did not want to try to do in our game what a good teacher can do SO MUCH BETTER in the classroom.
So we see our instruments as resources for teachers, not apps that try to do things for teachers. But we also see them as just plain fun games!
Are there any specific activities that you have used to make learning Mathematics real for your students? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.