Website review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2012

Figure This!

Real-world examples illustrate complex math concepts

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Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, Math, Character & SEL, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Storytelling helps kids relate math to their lives.

Cons: It takes time find the right task, since challenges are not organized by level or Common Core Math Standards.

Bottom Line: Figure This! provides 76 math challenges to get kids using math in everyday situations.

Teachers can send the math challenges home throughout the school year, pass them out at parent night, or give presentations encouraging parents to use the website at home. The math challenges can be done in class, or the extensions can be used as class projects. Overall, it's an engaging way to teach math concepts, as Figure This! helps kids see that math is part of their everyday lives.

Additional materials are available to help you with instruction.

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Engaging math problems in Figure This!, a website sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, teach kids how to project salary growth, estimate percentages, and graph information to analyze trends. It's not all grown-up concepts, though: They also can determine which baseball player has the higher batting average, how far a paper airplane can fly or how far you can drive on a tank of gas, and how distance and angles affect mirror reflections. They also learn how to estimate surface area and compare fractions. From algebra and geometry to statistics and probability, the site features more than 76 challenges.

Challenges are listed by topic and title, and kids can access them on the site or print them out as PDFs. Each challenge shows ways to get started and comes with a hint, the correct answer with an explanation, and extra questions and reading suggestions to extend learning

Kids who aren't crazy about math may be inspired to learn about, for example, integers, probability, and algebra. The challenges are much more interesting than cut-and-dried number problems. Each helps kids visualize how math works in the real world and involves a detailed example that kids can relate to, such as the probability of two people at the same school having the same initials. 

Adding age suggestions and aligning activities to the Common Core Math Standards would make the site even stronger.

Overall Rating

Math story problems engage kids in problem-solving as well as rich discussions.
Figure This! offers fun math-inquiry activities, but responsiveness is limited to a single hint for all problems.
Each activity offers solutions and opportunities to extend learning. Resources are also available in Spanish.

Common Sense reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

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Featured review by
Gloria E. , Other
Georgian Court University
Lakewood, United States
No interactivity but extremely good real-world scenarios to supplement you content.
Real-world scenarios are excellent when asking students to apply concepts learned. However, "Figure This: Math Challenges for Families" is text-based which means no interactivity, no sound, no multimedia (although PowerPoint presentation is included), and no feedback. As such, ELL students and low literacy students will need a great deal of support. A good teacher can make the scenarios interesting and even exciting, so using it as supplemental materials would work, especially since a large portion of t ...
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