by Susan Young
SUBJECT AREA: Math: Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division of Integers and Decimals, Word Problems, Averaging, Equalities and Inequalities, Measurement, Money, Time, Percent, Basic Geometry, Ratios, Prime Numbers, Estimation, Fractions, Powers and Square Root, Positive/Negative Numbers.
PUBLISHER: Sanctuary Woods (800) 943-3664
COST: $69.99 Teacher's Edition
INTENDED AUDIENCE: Grades 4-7
NOTABLE SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Macintosh: System 7.0 or higher, 8MB RAM, CD-ROM Drive
Windows: 486SX or better, 8MB of RAM, Windows 3.1 or Win 95, CD-ROM Drive, Sound Blaster-compatible Sound Card
DESCRIPTION: Major League Math is an animated baseball game which provides practice in math skills and solving math problems within the context of baseball. The idea behind the program is that many students do not make the connection between the math they learn in school and real life and that educators need to help them make that connection. By taking a subject many students are interested in - baseball - which, by its nature, is full of math, this program provides numerous opportunities to use math as a vehicle to solve problems. With digitized sound effects such as cheering crowds, a baseball announcer, and traditional organ music in the background, the program simulates being at a real baseball game.
The success of the game depends on how well math questions are answered. Students choose their own team and the opposing team. They then control the game by making such choices as the type of pitch to throw and the type of swing to use while at bat. The accuracy of their answers to the math questions reflects the results of the pitch or swing. For example, a correct answer may result in the student's team's pitcher throwing a strike.
Assistance is provided if needed in what is called the Coach's Corner which offers 25 "chalk talks" or tutorials on different mathematical concepts. There is also a Team Library and a Trivia Library which provide information about the game of baseball and baseball teams, some of which are needed to answer questions within the game.
STRENGTHS: For baseball enthusiasts, this program offers a highly motivating approach to practicing and applying math concepts. It shows students that the often dreaded math class can be fun and can relate to their own lives and interests. The options to choose from four levels of difficulty and to turn off the music and sound effects are important features.
WEAKNESSES: Many of Major League Math's strengths could also be considered its weaknesses, depending on students' interests and learning needs. The game part of the program involves multiple steps which require students to choose teams, types of pitches and swings, etc. and may be difficult for students whose baseball knowledge is less sophisticated.
The inability to select specific skill areas within a difficulty level may result in students' being presented with problems with which they are unfamiliar. A helpful feature would be to allow teachers to specify the types of problems to be presented.
SUMMARY: Major League Math, an animated baseball game, offers students the opportunity to strengthen and practice math skills within the context of baseball. Students who love baseball will be motivated to solve the math problems and will come to recognize the relevance of math to their lives. This program will definitely be a favorite with baseball fans.
Susan Young is a graduate student in the Department of Special Education at The College of New Jersey.
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