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Icon for: Mary Fries


Education Development Center

iPuzzle: Transforming Mathematics Learning through Social Puzzling

NSF Awards: 1135173

2015 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12

The SolveMe Mobiles app is designed to support algebraic reasoning in a fun and interactive format. These colorful puzzles help algebra and pre-algebra students as well as puzzle-lovers of all ages establish and strengthen the logic of solving equations for unknown values. Learn more and play at http://solveme.edc.org or download the iPad app.

This video highlights students’ logical reasoning while using the app and demonstrates the use of equations and annotations in solving puzzles.

The logic of balancing mobile puzzles is the same as the logic required in solving equations and systems of equations. The visual format makes these puzzles, and the logic they develop, accessible and appealing to a wide audience from age 6 through adults.

SolveMe Mobiles has been designed both for independent, informal use and for classroom contexts where students are sharing iPads or computers and may continue their work at home. Optional user accounts record progress, awards, settings, and user-created puzzles across sessions and devices.

SolveMe Mobiles was developed at Education Development Center, Inc. in Waltham, MA and was inspired by the research and development of both Think Math!, a comprehensive K-5 curriculum, and Transition to Algebra, a full-year algebra curriculum. Additional SolveMe math apps will soon be available at http://solveme.edc.org and for the iPad in the Apple iTunes app store.

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Discussion from the 2015 Teaching & Learning Video Showcase (7 posts)
  • Icon for: Jacqueline Coomes

    Jacqueline Coomes

    May 11, 2015 | 07:58 a.m.

    I am interested in hearing about any research in this project that shows students’ understanding of equations, variables, or solving contextual problems after using this app. Are there dependent systems in the app, and if so, how do students reason about them?

  • Icon for: Mary Fries

    Mary Fries

    Lead Presenter
    Curriculum/Instructional Materials Designer
    May 11, 2015 | 04:43 p.m.

    Thanks for asking, Jacqueline. Our research has been limited, but in classroom observations, we’ve seen students create systems of equations based on a mobile puzzle and then solve the system without using the mobile. It’s seems helpful for students to be able to create equations in the app by dragging a beam off of a mobile. We’ve also seen students talk about the mobile picture that an equation would make without actually being given a mobile, which we think indicates that the logic is readily transferable.

    All of the puzzles that are built into the app have a unique solution, so all of the unknowns in these puzzles are dependent on the givens. Some user-shared puzzles do have multiple solutions, and some built-in puzzles have multiple mobiles but only one solution (for example, try Puzzle 84: http://solveme.edc.org/Mobiles.html?mobiles=-84 ).

  • Icon for: Amy Busey

    Amy Busey

    Research Associate
    May 12, 2015 | 02:36 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing! Have you seen any differences in students’ experiences in the app vs. on the computer? In the context of this work, does mobility of the ipad and touch screen interaction play an important role?

  • Icon for: Mary Fries

    Mary Fries

    Lead Presenter
    Curriculum/Instructional Materials Designer
    May 12, 2015 | 04:36 p.m.

    Hi Amy, great question! We haven’t seen much difference in the student’s mathematical experience between the mobiles app and the web app. Students do tend to get more excited about working on the iPads, but once immersed in the app, the functionality hardly differs. Further along those lines, I’ve been quite surprised by how adept students are with technology, in general. Even with the beta versions, which had bugs and incomplete features, students were able to use the app with great ease and generally needed little to no support with navigating the app even as a work in progress.

  • Icon for: Sue Ellen McCann

    Sue Ellen McCann

    Executive in Charge, Science
    May 12, 2015 | 03:14 p.m.

    I’m curious if your research is showing any differences in informal and formal learning practices in your audiences.

  • Icon for: Mary Fries

    Mary Fries

    Lead Presenter
    Curriculum/Instructional Materials Designer
    May 13, 2015 | 08:15 p.m.

    Hi Sue Ellen, Most of our research has been in formal contexts, where student engagement has lasted though our four class-period interventions and students were encouraged to work together, at home, and as a class (as well as to build and share puzzles with teachers and classmates). Our informal research contexts were shorter in duration; players have been given the app and asked for feedback. Research focused on differences in learning practices with math puzzle apps across contexts would be interesting! Thanks!

  • Svetlana Yuzhelevskaya

    May 14, 2015 | 02:26 p.m.

    This is a very cool game for kids! I have an 11 y.o and he would be interested to play it.

  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.