In an effort to engage students in STEM subjects, Tina Barseghian reviews 5 math apps for students. Meeting students on their level and interacting with them in ways they can relate to play a big role in the overall success students have learning a specific subject.
Below are three math apps for middle school students that make learning the subject more fun. For the other two suggested apps, please visit the original review at the link below.
1. MayaNumbers. Free
In addition to a brief historical explanation of how the Mayan people performed math calculations, this app offers up a simple game that will have players using tap, swipe, and tap-and-hold gestures to add dots, dashes, and shells to represent 1, 5, and 0 (zero), the three numbers used by Mayans for addition (and a form of multiplication). It’s tricky, too — the Mayans used a base-20 system for counting as opposed to the standard base-10 we use today, so players will need to change the way they think just a bit and “forget” the 1s, 10s, and 100s places used in today’s math and replace it with 1s, 20s, and 400s. The colors and graphics for MayaNumbers are eye-catching — not surprising considering that Dig-It! Games was founded by Suzi Wilczynski, a professional archaeologist and former middle-school teacher.
2. Operation Math Code Squad. $2.99
Although this app is recommended for ages 6-12, it’s still a solid math testing app even for older kids. Up to four players can play at once, each taking the role of a secret agent hoping to foil Dr. Odd plan to rid the world of math. Timed exercises allow the team to choose addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication, or a mix — an Easy, Medium and Difficult mission level can also be selected. As players finish a stage, the following stage increases the difficulty. Players must complete an increasing number of math questions before the timer runs out. Teachers will really like the game summary screen that shows each player’s results. The graphics and sounds are going to appeal to all ages of kids, and the fast-paced play and cooperation between players offers teachers and parents a game app that will be requested often.
3. DragonBox Algebra, $5.99 and $9.99
DragonBox Algebra 5+ and the more advanced version DragonBox Algebra 12+ are both bright and eye-catching games in which, as players progress through the game, images of things like bugs and treasure chests begin to get replaced with variables and equations over time, until eventually players are balancing equations. If players are familiar with Angry Birds, they will understand how the game progresses in terms of Chapters and Levels — more complex games cannot be played without successfully solving earlier levels (and thus learning basic concepts). The 5+ version is for those student just getting into Algebra (or in a Pre-Algebra class) and the 12+ version is for middle grade students and offers many more variations of algebra (such as using parenthesis in equations or factors, for example).