Common Sense Review
Updated December 2013

Brilliant

Challenge top students with adaptive math and physics problems
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • Brilliant is an online forum to discuss math and physics problems.
  • Users select math and science topics to follow.
  • Kids answer the toughest problem they can to determine their level.
  • An individualized home page shows kids problems in the topics they follow, and at their level.
  • Share a problem for others to solve.
Pros
Kids have access to tons of problems at their level with immediate feedback.
Cons
Without a teacher dashboard, it's simply a resource for extra practice.
Bottom Line
This leveled physics and math problem site can be an exciting challenge for passionate students, but may be too much for struggling students.
Emily Pohlonski
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Brilliant is very user-friendly with a clean, intuitive design. The mathematical tasks themselves are about as fun as your average story problem.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 5

Problems are leveled specifically for each student. You can also publish your own questions to puzzle other users.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

Sample solutions may help kids who are struggling; there's also a FAQ section and information on specific problem-solving techniques. Brilliant is available in English, Portuguese, and Korean. 

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

You'll probably want to assign Brilliant's problems primarily for at-home practice, or challenge high-achieving kids to complete problems for extra credit. When you create your own account, you'll be able to post specific problems for your students; you can use hashtags to mark which ones you'd like them to complete. Encourage kids to post their own questions or share interesting problems they find on Brilliant with the class. Math teachers can encourage their students to check out the helpful Techniques section, which offers a succinct description of an idea like parallel lines accompanied by a few examples at the bottom.

Watch this video to see more ways you can use Brilliant:

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What's It Like?

Brilliant is an online community (web and Chrome app) of learners who share and solve physics and math problems. Aimed toward high aptitude students, it's particularly useful to kids competing in Math or Science Olympiad contests. First, students choose a topic: Algebra, Number Theory, Combinatorics, Electricity & Magnetism, Computer Science, Mechanics, Geometry, or Calculus. They're they're given a choice of 5 problems, one at each of five levels. They'll solve the hardest one they can; this determines placement and the level of challenge from that point forward.

Each level is divided into ratings; kids who boost their rating by correctly solving problems will get “leveled up.” They'll get three tries to solve a problem, but if they still can’t figure it out, sample solutions are provided. And if they don't like the sample solution? Kids can request a clarification or dispute the answer.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Brilliant is elegantly laid out and easy to navigate. It lets kids solve problems at their level while getting immediate feedback. Students will appreciate the choices they get to make -- they can pick the problems they find interesting. Even better, they can create their own problems to try to stump their friends. The site's existing problems are moderately intriguing; They're pretty similar to the types of story problems you find in traditional math and physics textbooks.

Like any online forum there are some safety concerns; make sure to talk to your students about digital citizenship. All users are asked to upload a profile picture, but kids can skip this step, using an avatar or a picture of a favorite animal. Brilliant also could be improved by adding a teacher dashboard to easily track student progress. Also, answers submitted don't require the use of units, which could be particularly problematic in physics. Note that this site is aimed toward "exceptional students," so it may not be appropriate for kids who are having difficulty with math or physics.

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