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Pros: Learning is seamlessly integrated into a fun and engaging math game.
Cons: Without hints for more challenging puzzles, some kids could get frustrated.
Bottom Line: Fun games and super-cute characters help kids build important skills related to math and higher-order thinking.
Since Wuzzit Trouble addresses the concept of integer partition, it could work well as a year-round supplement to a range of math curricula. Set aside some time each week, or more often if possible, to let kids play individually or in teams. After gameplay, come together as a class and discuss the specific puzzles that kids were able to complete. For younger learners, focus on the more basic levels and challenge them to improve their scores. For older learners, encourage them to complete as many advanced levels as possible and then go back and try to improve their scores.
Wuzzit Trouble is a math game based on the concept of integer partition, or the expressions of a whole number as the sum of other whole numbers. Kids have to set adorable creatures called Wuzzits free from traps by collecting keys to unlock the traps. Kids collect the keys by figuring out how many times to turn gears, and which way to turn them. Points are given for the least number of turns, and kids can earn prizes and treats for the Wuzzits as they play.
The home screen is pretty simple, with three options: play, change settings, or view a list of trophies earned. In play mode, three main levels have 25 puzzles in each mode, for a total of 75 puzzles. At the most basic level, kids are given one large gear and one small gear. When you turn the small gear one time in the right direction, the large gear turns to unlock a key. Each turn of the small gear moves the large gear 5 places. In more advanced levels, kids have to manipulate several small gears to move the large gear and unlock multiple keys and food for the Wuzzits. Kids earn more points and star rewards for fewer moves. By tapping on the settings icon on the home screen, kids can turn music and sound on or off, access information about the game developer, or completely reset the game. And by tapping on the trophy icon, kids can look at the trophies they have won. Kids can retry individual puzzles, or they can reset the entire game. This makes it easier to share devices in the classroom.
One of the best things about Wuzzit Trouble is that kids learn by playing. Formal assessments aren't needed, since kids have to unlock a level before moving on. Kids build strong critical-thinking and problem-solving skills as they figure out how to make small and large gears turn to unlock keys and prizes. As the levels progress, they become more challenging, with more small gears to turn and more keys needed to unlock the Wuzzits. The puzzlers are based on integer partition and help kids build critical-thinking skills as they try to figure out what combination of integers will rotate the large gear to unlock the keys. A handful of Common Core standards are addressed in the game, as well. Hints for improving scores and unlocking levels would boost learning a bit, especially for struggling kids.