By tpm | January 26, 2012
While I barely remember it today, the original Math Blaster, released in the late 1980’s was a popular game designed to teach kids math that showed up in the computers at my elementary school and countless others. The Math Blaster series has continued to be popular for over two decades. Today, Knowledge Adventure handles the franchise and offered me the opportunity to take a look at the latest incarnation of Math Blaster at MathBlaster.com in order to do a review. I quickly accepted, wanting to see how the franchise has evolved. What I found was that the series has dramatically evolved to a level of sophistication demanded by today’s tech savvy kids.
I was impressed by Math Blaster from the minute I logged on. The graphics were cool, the music felt like something out of The Matrix, and everything just felt very polished. One of the first surprises I had was that there were students avatars all around me. In playing in Math Blaster’s online environment, kids can interact with kids who are also playing the game. You can add friends and some of the games allow for competition between students. Like many other popular kids games, there are a lot of ways to update your avatar when you “level up,” unlock levels of the game, and even have a pet to care for. All of these features add to the engagement factor designed to bring kids back to the game again and again.
Incidentally, parents have a lot of control with how their child’s online interactions occur. When logged into your parent account, you have the ability to disable interactions with other players or control how much interaction does occur. Math Blaster also has a blog targeted to parents to let them know about new game features and math skills being incorporated.
I really enjoyed the variety of activities available in Math Blaster. You enter games by moving your avatar from the deck of the space station you are in to different game rooms. Some games are racing, others are platform based (like Mario), some are even quest based. At one point the station even came under attack and all of us were ordered to rush to our battle stations in order to defend the station against attack.
Math Blaster has math content designed primarily for elementary through middle school. The concepts I found emphasized in the games included addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, but also decimals, place value, money, angle types, and multiples of numbers. I could tell from reading the old blog posts that new skills are being added over time. I like the fact that kids can make a lot of customizations to the problems they are solving. In addition to the type of operations performed, they can often choose a limit on how large the numbers are that they’ll be working with and a difficulty level for the game as well.
Some of the games have more math content than others. I found that I could be successful in some almost without doing much math while others required a lot of correct answers in order advance even a single round. In the long run, there’s no way to continue to advance your avatar and unlock new levels in the game without solving a lot of math problems.
Bottom Line MathBlaster.com Review
MathBlaster.com is a huge world. I spent several hours exploring it and feel like I just scratched the surface. I wouldn’t call it a pure math game, more like an adventure game with significant math content. You need both gaming skills and math skills in order to continue advancing your character. There’s plenty of each to keep kids coming back for more.
The cost of a MathBlaster.com membership is very affordable, $8.99 per month at the time I posted this review (with better per month prices if you subscribe annually). At that price, it’s easy enough to buy a one month membership just to try it out. Incidentally, there are a lot of resources on MathBlaster.com in addition to the games, including lesson plans and worksheets. It’s definitely worth checking out whether you plan to purchase a membership or not.
Incidentally, MathBlaster.com is sponsoring a contest on Tech Powered Math next week. The winner will get a 3-month membership, so be sure to check back for more information on Monday.
Disclosure: I was provided with a membership good for Math Blaster and Knowledge Adventure at no cost by Knowledge Adventure in order to test the products’ abilities and give my own personal opinions on it. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were not influenced by the company or the free product provided