Teachers can use BrainQuake Math to engage and motivate students who are working on number sense and basic operations, though many of the game's later levels would challenge most students and teachers. Teachers will want to take some class time to have students discuss and share different strategies to solve these puzzles, which will lead to valuable learning. The game dovetails well with work on number lines. You will find yourself asking things like "how many jumps" or "turns" of 3 would it take to get to that number?
The game would be best used in short 10-minute bursts to avoid frustration or having it get old too fast. It may be a part of math centers or morning work, for example. Once BrainQuake Math is purchased, you own it and students can rotate on a yearly basis or as needed. Still, the cost might be a little hard to swallow for a game with such a limited scope. If purchasing BrainQuake Math for an entire class isn't possible, it's worth the cost for students who just need something extra or different to work on their numeracy skills.Continue reading Show less
BrainQuake Math is a web-based math puzzle game (and iOS and Android app) that deals with developing number sense. At the start, students are given brief directions about turning their small gears either left or right. This then rotates the large gear, and when students land on the correct number, they get a key. Getting all of the keys frees a Wuzzit. Freeing the Wuzzit gets the students a star, but students can get up to three stars and more points if they solve the puzzle with the fewest possible moves. For example, a student might have two small gears, one with a value of 3 and the other with 6. Turning these will move the larger gear by that amount, which has keys located at 6, 12, and 15. What should a student do? They could rotate the 6 gear twice, which would take care of the keys located at 6 and 12. One rotation of the 3 gear would get the student to 15. Of course, the student could also have rotated the 3 gear five times, which would have gotten each key.
There are three stages, each with 25 levels. In each of the stages, levels start off easily and increase in difficulty. In addition to keys, the game eventually adds bonus items like jewels or ladybugs. Landing on these increases a student's score, but acquiring them isn't necessary for completing the level. This adds a nice bit of challenge for students who already have strong number sense. Filament Games does provide a teacher dashboard, which tells you what levels students have completed as well as what skills those levels relate to.
A Stanford study done specifically with BrainQuake Math involved a group of students who played, self-guided, for two hours spread over one month. The BrainQuake group showed an increase in written test scores -- just from playing the game with no added instruction.
The game uses very little written language, leaving students to discover the ins and outs of the game on their own; English is the only language available. Some aspects of the game could be better demonstrated: Students may not realize that choosing to rotate a small gear several times counts only as one move, which is an important piece of information to get the best score possible. Some also may not realize the importance of rotating the cog left. Later levels do get quite challenging, which may frustrate some students while delighting others.
Key Standards Supported
Number And Operations In Base Ten
Fluently add and subtract within 100 using strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction.
Fluently add and subtract within 1000 using strategies and algorithms based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction.
Operations And Algebraic Thinking
Find all factor pairs for a whole number in the range 1–100. Recognize that a whole number is a multiple of each of its factors. Determine whether a given whole number in the range 1–100 is a multiple of a given one-digit number. Determine whether a given whole number in the range 1–100 is prime or composite.
Generate a number or shape pattern that follows a given rule. Identify apparent features of the pattern that were not explicit in the rule itself. For example, given the rule “Add 3” and the starting number 1, generate terms in the resulting sequence and observe that the terms appear to alternate between odd and even numbers. Explain informally why the numbers will continue to alternate in this way.
The Number System
Find the greatest common factor of two whole numbers less than or equal to 100 and the least common multiple of two whole numbers less than or equal to 12. Use the distributive property to express a sum of two whole numbers 1–100 with a common factor as a multiple of a sum of two whole numbers with no common factor. For example, express 36 + 8 as 4 (9 + 2).
Understand that positive and negative numbers are used together to describe quantities having opposite directions or values (e.g., temperature above/below zero, elevation above/below sea level, credits/debits, positive/negative electric charge); use positive and negative numbers to represent quantities in real-world contexts, explaining the meaning of 0 in each situation.
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