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The Distance Game.

age 10-adult, developed by Grayson Wheatley and Michael Naylor, 1998. Single disk for Macintosh or Windows, $29.95. Mathematics Learning, 8930 Winged Foot Dr., Tallahassee, FL 32312, (850) 668-9397.

According to its authors, "This game becomes addictive - children and adults have been observed playing the game for hours. . . . It is accessible to elementary school students but still challenging for adults." The game caught my interest as well as the interest of students in both fifth and sixth grades. The stronger the children's mathematics skills, the more they seemed to be intrigued by the game.

A player is presented with a ten-by-ten grid and asked to find Bouncer, which is located at one of the grid's intersections. Bouncer can be found by clicking on the correct intersection. When the player clicks on an intersection, the program tells how far from that intersection Bouncer is located. If the player happens to click in line with Bouncer, the distance from the intersection to Bouncer is a whole number. If Bouncer is located diagonally from the intersection, the straight-line distance is given using decimals rounded to tenths. For example, one square away on the diagonal would be listed as 1.4, the square root of 2.

A game consists of ten rounds, and players try to find Bouncer using the fewest guesses. The game records the average number of guesses for the ten rounds and also contains a Hall of Fame so that students can compare their results with those of other players.

This program allows students to develop their own understandings of many mathematical skills, does not contain a tutorial, and recommends against preteaching associated skills. As children play the game, their knowledge is reinforced in such areas as analyzing decimal numbers, plotting points on the coordinate plane, determining distances between coordinate points, understanding averages, and thinking in units. With some instruction, a more advanced level can be played that would include work with the Pythagorean theorem and number theory with square numbers.

The Distance Game is an enjoyable program that helped my students develop mathematical understandings in a recreational format.

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Title Annotation:Software Review
Author:Becher, Paul G.
Publication:Teaching Children Mathematics
Article Type:Evaluation
Date:Feb 1, 1999
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