Review by Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2013
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Poorly developed content may confuse in this no-frills reference

Subjects & skills
  • Math

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Formula calculators allow for detailed data input, particularly for geometry topics.

Cons: Content is patchy and needs development.

Bottom Line: It's a decent formula calculator that still needs some work in order to be a truly helpful tool for kids.

Students can use this app –- with teacher guidance –- to review explanations and diagrams, look up formulas, and enter data into calculators to check their work. Some calculators show and explain processes as well as answers. 

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Mathinary is a no-frills math reference good for formulas and formula calculations, particularly for geometry. The formula calculators in this app are where the bang is, particularly for geometry but also finance (and a few conversions). Trigonometry does not have its own menu, but the Unit Circle section explains graphic representations of the trigonometric functions sine, cosine, and tangent, etc. So if that's what your students need, this one is for you.

Users choose among seven menu items, most with submenus. Geometry and algebra are best represented, with 23 (plane and solid) and 10 pages, respectively. If a student chooses to review a rhombus, the About section has a labeled diagram, a definition, and some extra details. The formulas tab repeats the diagram and lists three formulas for area and one for perimeter. Students enter data in the calculator tab input boxes –- for instance, three side lengths (diagonal, diagonal, and side) –- and hit Calculate: 5, 7, and 8 give an area of 17.5.

It's okay, but could definitely be better. Downsides include too-small text, occasional incomplete explanations, and poorly developed content. While some content is acceptable for younger middle schoolers, like algebra and numbers, the explanations for these easier topics are not always thorough or clear. Since the app originates from the University of Edinburgh, some of the language and math processes are a bit different than what the average U.S. kid is used to (sinus for sine, etc.) and may just confuse them more.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Text is small, and explanations are straightforward and relatively dry. Kids will probably only use this app if they're directed to do so or really need to review a particular formula.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Pedagogy and depth are good for geometry topics, but much less so for others. If the app were more developed, it could give kids some quality, transferrable math skills.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Mathinary is no-frills, and that includes supports. While it's simple and well-organized by topic, it doesn't provide extensions or additional accessibility.

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Darren D. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Cottonwood Creek Elementary School
Englewood, United States
Better suited for older students
Overall, Mathinary is more of a resource tool for students who may need to quickly locate how to solve a problem. Solutions and formulas can assist students in their understanding, but the overall user friendliness of the app prevents it from becoming a stand by tool for students. There are other tools available that offer a richer experience.
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