In its current form, Mathbreakers will probably be most useful to teachers as a fun way to engage kids in reviewing and thinking about mathematical concepts. Future versions have a lot of potential, though. Multiplayer would allow students to work in groups to solve problems, and level design will give kids the chance to design levels for each other, building their math skills by actually creating the puzzles. By making math skills so central to the game mechanics, Mathbreakers also has good potential to draw in kids who enjoy video games but aren't big fans of math. The demo is free to download, but there is a cost for the final full version.Continue reading Show less
Mathbreakers is an in-development 3D game featuring a variety of puzzles solved with basic math skills. It's a thin -- but effective -- skin on basic mathematics practice. The first level opens with a simple, well-guided concept: collect numbered balls and throw them at their inverses to zero them out and eliminate obstacles and monsters. For example, if monsters have a "2" on them the player needs to hit them with "-2" to destroy them. Things get gradually more complex as numbers quickly increase, and players have to decide how to use the number balls to get through the levels. Eventually new tools get added including different types of guns that can be loaded with numbers, hammers that break large numbers into their prime factors, etc..
It's clearly, lacking any narrative hook and graphical polish. Future versions plan to add multiplayer and sandbox play, as well as the ability for both kids (and teachers) to design their own levels.
The best thing about Mathbreakers is that math is the central game mechanic, not something students in between having fun. It has a nice progression, starting with tossing simple numbered balls, but eventually players can switch balls from positive to negative, and quickly increase or decrease numbers through multiplication and division. All these concepts are put together well and make kids think about and use mathematical skills on the fly. The final version is targeted at all the common core standards for grades 1-6, but currently only touches on a slice of earlier concepts. There's very little support, though, and teachers are likely to be plagued by kids asking for help, especially as they first figure out the game.
Key Standards Supported
Number And Operations—Fractions
Understand a fraction 1/b as the quantity formed by 1 part when a whole is partitioned into b equal parts; understand a fraction a/b as the quantity formed by a parts of size 1/b.
Apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication to multiply a fraction by a whole number.
Understand a fraction a/b as a multiple of 1/b. For example, use a visual fraction model to represent 5/4 as the product 5 × (1/4), recording the conclusion by the equation 5/4 = 5 × (1/4).
Apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication to multiply a fraction or whole number by a fraction.
Interpret multiplication as scaling (resizing), by:
Apply and extend previous understandings of division to divide unit fractions by whole numbers and whole numbers by unit fractions.1
Operations And Algebraic Thinking
Understand division as an unknown-factor problem. For example, find 32 ÷ 8 by finding the number that makes 32 when multiplied by 8.
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.
The Number System
Fluently divide multi-digit numbers using the standard algorithm.
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.