that being said, an amazingly effective game. after she finishes the bonus problems, i'll be showing her how to work them on paper.
I got db+ and was happy to see that the bonus levels progressed from symbols to letters/numbers so the last levels looked exactly like the algebra my kids will see in school. I think the game did an excellent job transitioning from the early levels that looked like many other kinds of puzzle/pattern games but evolved the symbols into more typical algebra equations in a way the kids barely notice but suddenly they're doing equations just like their math class. Very well designed IMO.
We need more imaginative games like this!
Would be interesting to see if they perform better, and the impact of gamifying education.
EDIT: For the silent downvoters - (http://www.badscience.net/2011/03/when-ethics-committees-kil...)
> At present there is a bizarre paradox in medicine. When there is no evidence on which treatment is best, out of two available options, then you can choose one randomly at will, on a whim, in clinic, and be subject to no special safeguards. If, however, you decide to formally randomise in the same situation, and so generate new knowledge to improve treatments now and in the future, then suddenly a world of administrative obstruction opens up before you.
Anecdotally, I liked playing Number Munchers in my elementary school and I was in a high percentile of my class and district on all the standardized tests. My peers played it too, but they still struggled, especially later on in junior high and high school.
Education was gamified decades ago. You get points for attendance, points for participation, points for correct answers, penalties for getting questions wrong, grades for overall evaluation, etc., etc.
It starts in kindergarden, with gold stars for doing classroom chores. You can pretty much read anything by Alfie Kohn to get a laundry list of gamification techniques, whether or not you agree with him.
I've read elsewhere that gamification tends to increase the desire to get "points" but reduces the desire to learn for it's own sake. The education is no longer considered it's own reward instead education is only worth while to score points.
I guessed that was why they changed KhanAcademy to remove some of the points elements??
I leave it to someone else to give citations as it's my tea-time.
Thanks for the link!
-Liam @ The Rude Baguette
Of course she does not understand fully what's behind (I would say almost "fortunately" ;-) ), especially on divisions or multiplications, so it cannot replace the future explanations about what it means.
That said, it shows the kind of game maths are about, and it dedramatize maths completely, and maybe that's the more important aspect of this game after all : maths are just a game, a complex one, but you have to enjoy them if you want to be good at them in the end.
In the end, the game is very progressive, fun, she loves seeing the little monsters growing and it entices her to go on. The UI is not perfect, but it's already very good. For example, giving some time in the end to cleanup extra members would be cool instead of relying on the order you remove members.
I can't help but think that playing complex games like this is one of the best training for yound minds !
I'll keep feeding it to her and keep you appraised.
I wonder what the big rush is with children, symbolic manipulation in a 4 year old's world has very little implication. Manipulating her environment through motor skils, developing ever more sophisticated interactions with other children, play etc, all seem to be much more useful. But anything that's fun is very likely good. I wonder how much of the fun is her reading back to you your enjoyment at seeing your offspring participate in algebra. The first rule of being a 4 year old is to please the parents. They, after all, provide everything.
My father got me playing around with programming when I was very young -- I think six or eight years old. Some of my first memories involve our VIC-20 computer.
While a lot of what I did was just typing in simple programs from a book, I did some experimentation on my own, and it became pretty obvious how variables, loops, and the rest worked.
When I hit school I was mathematically so far ahead of everybody else, not because I'm some kind of genius, but because I had already spent a lot of time unknowingly learning algebra.
This was a disadvantage, because the school system wasn't built to cope with a kid that understood algebra before he had memorized the multiplication table.
As an adult, however, I've enjoyed a pretty serious advantage when it comes to understanding abstract concepts, especially anything involving symbolic manipulation, and I think I can thank that VIC-20 BASIC manual from many years ago for it.
I wouldn't be too worried about starting a kid out 'too soon', provided that other areas of the child's mental development aren't neglected in favor of developing mathematical skills.
From fifth grade, I was bored out of my mind during math class. In sixth grade, my math teacher recognized my boredom to be a lack of challenge and decided she should do something about it. I was pulled into the vice principal's office at one point and asked to slow down my at-home learning because the teachers did not know what to do with me during class.
Eventually, we settled on a solution: I became the equivalent of a teacher's aid for my middle school class and tutored other kids who were having difficulty. This instilled a love for teaching that I carry with me to this day.
I don't think we should discourage children from learning at a fast pace as long as they appear to retain the information and it doesn't compromise other aspects of development. On the contrary, we need to find a way to help our education system cope with children learning things outside the classroom.
Indeed, the sheer brilliance of this game is the separation of the concrete blandness of raw numbers and plain symbolic letters (which she's already having enough meaning imputed upon while learning to read) from the pure symbology and entertaining rules applied thereto. That's why I'm a programmer: the joy of symbolic manipulation; this game starts her down the same track.
I gave some positive feedback, yes, but the bulk of that was just acknowledging her excitement in creating a new "monster" and next to nothing about the algebraic content. She took her own interest in the game far beyond any parent-pleasing feedback she got.
We're talking a couple hours of fun, and the chance that math won't seem so scary in high school.
When he finished the game, I asked if he realized he had been doing math and he said: "I didn't use any math to solve them". I think he meant calculation. This will lead to some interesting discussions...
I would love to see games like this for more subjects.
More of this.
His favorite thing to do is "pop" the zeros (ie spirals)