by William Gann
Have you ever played the card game Blackjack? It is one of the more popular casino games played all around the world. Known as a banking game in which the aim of the player is to achieve a hand whose points total nearer to 21 than the banker’s hand, but without exceeding 21. You might be wondering why I am referring to a casino game on an educational app review website. This is an excellent question! The game of Blackjack requires players to think on their toes, to add numbers quickly and to leave feeling like a winner. In January of this year, app developer William Gann, created a math application that is simply called 32. While reviewing this educational app, the card game Blackjack came to mind. This very fast paced educational game, 32, also requires players to be on their toes and to use a great deal of thinking in order to be successful. Designed for your iPad device running iOS 3.2 or later, late elementary to even adults will be challenged by this number game.
Amazingly, it is filled with 5 levels of difficulty with over 200 mathematical puzzles in which players must use their higher order thinking skills as it meets a number of math standards along the way. Although there isn’t a banker per say, the objective is quite the same as Blackjack. The only difference, with only four to five cards, a players total must be equal to 32. Each level within the game builds upon the mathematical concept of the orders of operation. When solving an equation that implements multiple operations, there is a rule that one must follow. Like reading a book, we read from left to right. This same rule applies when solving a mathematical equation, while also keeping in mind what many educators and students know as PEMDAS. PEMDAS is short for “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” an acronym for: parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, adding and subtracting. Regardless of which level is chosen, players are timed, not in the traditional sense, but rather by point value. Upon entering a level, players will see 4-5 colored cards, a fill in the blank equation and a countdown in the upper left hand corner. The countdown begins, not surprisingly, at 3200 points. The quicker you drag and drop cards into the correct position, the more points you earn. Scores are stored within the application based on the highest points earned within each level.
Come up to the chalkboard and show off what you know at each level. 32 is not difficult to navigate. As you enter the classroom, players will be provided general directions on “How to Play” as well as written tutorials upon entering each leveled game. Levels are clearly defined prior to game play. While manipulating cards and solving puzzles in levels 1 – 3, players will have access to only four moveable playing cards in which to get an equation equalling 32. It is important to note, that levels progressively incorporate the orders of operation.
Level 1 – consists of puzzles involving only addition.
Level 2 – consists of puzzles involving adding and subtracting.
Level 3 – consists of puzzles involving adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing and parentheses.
Upon entering Level 4, players will immediately notice a slight change in the number of cards available. Instead of four moveable cards, players now have to manipulate and build an equation containing five numbers equalling 32. Puzzles in Level 4 contain the same available operations as level 3. The final challenge happens in Level 5, when players must manipulate four numbers to equal a total of 32 as it integrates all aspects of the orders of operation, exponents included.
There are a number of things that Applicable2U likes about this math application. As software becomes obsolete due to more and more schools implementing mobile devices in school, an application like 32 will certainly have a place in a classroom, on the go, or at home. It very nicely fits the late elementary curriculum standards and can stimulate the oldest of minds. 32 would work as a center activity or part of a whole group lesson with your iPad connected to a large screen projector as mathematical conversations are sparked. Or use just to stimulate ones mind at home in order to reinforce and master skills being taught at school. Although we are an advocate of the game, there are some things we hope the developers will take into consideration when looking at their next update.
– Might it be possible for those just learning this mathematical skill or who need additional support to incorporate something like a video screencast or jing video modeling the solving procedures prior to playing. By integrating this added feature, your mobile application will be differentiating the learning for all students.
– Also, have you thought about allowing for multiple accounts within the application. As puzzles are solved, might it be possible to include a username submission box which stores the Top 10 scores within each level. Thus showing progress made by multiple users.
– For some students or users, the point value timer may be overwhelming. Might it be possible to set the timer as an option that can be set to on/off as needed. As suggested by one of our students, the point timer could even be invisible. It is not until the game is done that this numerical value appears. In addition, to continue on the theme of added support, might a scratch pad be made available in which users can jot down their work. As players moved onto levels 4 and 5, this scratch pad feature could become locked after so many attempts at opening it up.
Overall, Applicable2u gives the educational math app 32, two thumbs up! We have been on the look out for supplemental activities to reinforce such math skills and believe that we have found a winner in 32!! We were amazed to see that it only costs .99¢ to download to our iPad device. If you would like to learn more about William Gann, please visit his website here. It’s time to stimulate your brain and apply known number facts as you follow the orders of operation while playing 32 in the palm of your hands, click here to download today!