Intermediate Level Maths Plus
In spite of the dull title and packaging, this Maths tutorial package is very well thought-out and competently produced. It contains five programs: Tessellations; Number Machine; Graph; Number Line and Factory. For the uninitiated (including myself before I used this game!) a tessellation is a mosaic pattern in which all the pieces fit together to cover a space completely.
The first program allows you to design and colour a variety of patterns using the arrow keys to move the shapes and 'P' to paint them in.
The second program draws a number machine and requires the player to find the rule it works by. Beginning from the very basic 'Put in 4, out come 8', the computer continues to simple algebraic equations such as 'y= 2x'. This certainly is a program which encourages the player to think, and is an excellent way of explaining an algebraic concept.Graph builds on what has been learnt in Number Machine - the computer draws a graph of an equations and a choice needs to be made as to which of three given equations produces that graph. The booklet gives a very clear explanation of how to work out the correct answer.
The final two programs - Number Line and Factory - are based on games formats, the former beginning with sums using positive and negative numbers, then progressing to a game on the numberline. My fifteen year old testers loved this game, and it certainly gave them excellent practice in mental arithmetic. Factory though, is the most enjoyable of all the games in the package. In this program, the player is in charge of a small factory making cases of Fizzbees (whatever they are!) and must decide how many cases to manufacture each week, what the selling price will be and whether or not money should be spent on advertising. The computer works out the sales figures and says if you have made a profit or loss. This game is a very clever way of encouraging children to apply their mathematical knowledge in a practical situation. The pupils who tested the game were quickly engrossed and a great deal of lively discussion was generated as they debated the quantities to be manufactured, the selling prices and so on.
This package, which has been approved by teachers, is really very good value, and would be useful for home as well as school use. As one of the testers said, 'I don't like maths and I wouldn't have bought this game for myself, but the program makes everything seem quite interesting and I really enjoyed the Factory game'
Control keys: as few keys as possible are used for simplicity
Keyboard play: very fast and responsive
Use of colour: sensibly limited for the sake of clarity in some games
Graphics: very clear