Review(ish): Mathbreakers

We were first told about Mathbreakers a few months ago. It was at a very early stage of development, and it wouldn’t run on my PC. Now some time has passed, and I managed to run the most recent version last weekend. I’ve only played the demo, so a full review isn’t fair, but I thought I’d tell you about it in case you want to give it a go.

Warning: this post has like a bajillion animated GIFs in it. Your internet connection will suffer.

Mathbreakers is what I’d call an ‘edutainment’ game, though I think that term’s fallen out of favour. The developers, Imaginary Number Co., say it’s “a video game that teaches math through play”. It’s aimed at school kids, and deals with basic numeracy.

Poetry in Motion

Phil Ramsden gave an excellent talk at the 2013 MathsJam conference, about a particularly mathematical form of poetry. We asked him to write an article explaining it in more detail.

Generals gathered in their masses,
Just like witches at black masses.

(Butler et al., “War Pigs”, Paranoid, 1970)

Brummie hard-rockers Black Sabbath have sometimes been derided for the way writer Geezer Butler rhymes “masses” with “masses”. But this is a little unfair. After all, Edward Lear used to do the same thing in his original limericks. For example:

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, “It is just as I feared!-
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!”

(“There was an Old Man with a beard”, from Lear, E., A Book Of Nonsense, 1846.)

And actually, the practice goes back a lot longer than that. The sestina is a poetic form that dates from the 12th century, and was later perfected by Dante. It works entirely on “whole-word” rhymes.

My week at BCME8

This week I’m contributing to the 8th British Congress of Mathematics Education (BCME). If you’re going, I hope to see you there! (I’ll be there Monday after dinner and Wednesday all day; otherwise it’s a normal teaching week for us.)

I’m involved with three sessions – a fun Maths Jam, a ‘how I used history in my teaching’ workshop and a research talk based on half my PhD. Here are the details:

Meterfy – numbers for everyone!

Fans of numbers will be pleased to hear that they now have their own social network. I’m not sure if I mean than numbers do, or fans of numbers do, but either way Meterfy is a newly launched internet website on which you can share, and discover, a huge quantity of numbers – statistics, constants, totals, averages and molar masses abound.