By Tech Powered Dad | September 6, 2011
Grade Levels: Elementary through Middle School
A recent math app release that caught my eye for younger students trying to understand the number line and place value is Motion Math Zoom. This app is simple in its design but works on a lot of levels. The premise is simple enough to begin. You start with a number that has a frog sitting at each whole number location on the line. Then a bubble with a number contained in it appears floating in the sky. Your job is to adjust the number line by flick scrolling it side to side until you find the frog that matches with the number in the bubble, pop the bubble, and watch it drop into the appropriate location on the number line.
If this sounds like it would be ridiculously easy for anyone but very young elementary students, the difficulty kicks up in a hurry. While the opening level only has you place relatively small numbers on the number line, subsequent level start introducing numbers into the thousands, negatives, and decimal numbers.
I really like how the app handles the idea of place value, taking advantage of pinch zoom. By simply pinch zooming out, the frogs eventually fade out, as do the “ones” on the number line. In their place, you see dogs and only the “tens” on the number line. Continue zooming out and you’ll eventually see dinosaurs in the “thousands” places. Similarly, pinch zooming in will take you to tiny insects that represent “tenths” and “hundredths.” Negative numbers are represented by the animals facing to the left as opposed the positive number animals which face right.
Motion Math Zoom could be used equally well as a great enrichment activity for students in younger grades or to help older students visualize concepts of place value and negative numbers that they didn’t understand well the first time around.