Student Reaction

Our hopes in building student enthusiasm for mathematics through clever sugar-coating and banana plug connecting approached total success, but fell short due to a need for further field tests. In handing out worksheets with fractions printed from corner to corner, students’ immediate impressions were ones of discontent and loss of excitement. The students that managed to stay enthralled, excited the other students as they powered up the first of four devices. After the first one was powered, they wanted to power them all, but if the students as a team could not succeed, interest decayed at an exponential rate. The worksheet was intimidating, but necessary to make solving the answers much easier than reffering to the game board to see which fractions were available.

The major issue most students had at first was a misunderstanding of how exactly the board game worked. We aided and hinted just enough for each group to power their first device (the advice we gave varied with the group, as group 1 proved to us that almost no advice was even necessary). It would prove useful in future iterations to start off the game wit students observing a device that is already powered, providing an instant visual ‘instruction booklet.’ Even the worksheet could include an image of how a device is correctly powered.

Another helpful change would be the addition of more devices to power, especially ones with more movement. Providing more visual stimuli to observe would get the students more excited, and if the device after being powered had further ways for the student to interact (for example: a motor powered carousel might have a potentiometer attached, teaching the student about circuit components and adding another level to the lesson). With adding more devices should come easier power ups, requiring less math for the students to grasp the concept of the game progressively. Creating a gradual incline of difficulty for the students would speed up the understanding process significantly, especially with the students whom lose focus more quickly.