Thursday, 16 July 2015

Maths, nuclear explosions and other recreational activities

It's always nice to get a comment from someone who isn't trying to sell something.  Zoe Chen's comment not only displayed cultural awareness (math / maths) but also touched on points that were raised during the discussion with Marc.

The three games Marc is hoping to get feedback on are:
Ordering Fractions Game and Giving Change Game by the BBC and
Algebra Meltdown by Manga High.

"What's that last one about?" someone asked
"It teaches maths by getting people to solve algebraic equations in order to prevent a nuclear explosion" answered Marc.
"Er... so people who are nervous about maths are told 'If you get these equations wrong, there'll be a nuclear disaster.'  That's very homoeopathic!"

Marc made the point that storytelling could be a factor in the success of a game; and actually the Algebra Meltdown game (despite its name) isn't that scary.  The only things that explode (metaphorically) in the event of algebraic error are nuclear scientists.  I suppose it's difficult to get the balance of punishment and reward right in such things.  If you make the game too stressful, students give up on maths and seek therapy*.  However, if the consequences of making a mistake are comical, students deliberately make mistakes.

*I met a New York based therapist recently.  He charges $200 per hour.  I guess they rely on people not being able to add up.