Monday, May 16, 2011

Power Up

A math game for exponents.

A colleague gave me a game created by one of her students Steven Reynolds.  The idea was having the power as an exponent connected with the power of a superhero.  I liked the premise, as I'm a comic fan myself and have a son who's obsessed.  The timing of playing this with the 5th graders was perfect, the day before Free Comic Book Day, the closest thing the superhero community has to a holiday.

The fifth graders had had no experience with exponents before, so this was the introduction.  The game was good ground for getting them talking to each other about things like 3^4, how to calculate it, and noticing some of the properties.  The main confusion was typical: 2^3 = 2x3.  But they went from me reminding them to reminding each other to the vast majority being comfortable with the notation.

The most exciting thing about the game was how much people got into the context and then wanted to play.  Some students that had never gotten this much into a math game were engaged; not just in the creative side of it, but in playing the game, also.  The students asked if they could choose to work more on their origin stories for their writing time later and Mr. Schiller gave them that option.  Two students gave me permission to post their stories, which are after the revised game below. (As usual, good suggestions from the students.)

I launched the game by creating my character on the overhead, at the same time as they were creating theirs.  While people were still working on different steps, I had a few people share what they had so far.  My super hero was the Time Keeper, who got his powers by finding a watch that turned out to belong to Father Time.  He got super strength (base 4), super speed (base 3), and the magic watch (random).  Then I played a game vs Shadow the Hedgehog in front of the whole class in which he pounded me.  The game play is pretty quick, so kids were all over the room playing each other.  Overall, they rated this game a definite keeper.


If Scribd gives you weirdness about paying, you can always email me for the pdf or the docx.  I'm grateful to my son, budding comic artist at almost 11 yr.s, for the following illustration of the example from the game sheet. (Click for full size.)

Here's two of the origin stories.

Shadow the Hedgehog by Jim (created by science, doesn't know if he's a hero or villain)
At a space complex ark, he was looking out the window. "Shadow, you've been looking out that window all day," Maria said. Shadow replied, "I just want to know what it's like down there. I've seen pictures, but... I just want to know what it's like."

(3 years later) "Doc, why am I nervous?" asked Shadow curiously. "You will see," Doctor Robotnik said.

A blaring alarm sounded. Doc cried, "Intruders! Shadow, guard Maria with your life!"

Shadow and Maria were running away from the GVN soldiers when one yelled, "Stop or I'll shoot!" Shadow told Maria, "run! I'll try to stop them." One of the soldiers pulled out a pistol, fires, and Shadow yelled, "Maria!"  Shadow causes chaos control with Maria, and she says, "Shadow, before I die... Be friends with the people on earth." Shadow yelled, "NO!!"

The Doc says, "take out the gun soldiers and their leader and see how they feel when their loved one is lost." Shadow said, "yes, sir."

When the Doc was arrested, they did not know about Project Shadow.

The Changer, by Katrina
"Ah, the sweet smell of safari!" I said to the driver.  "Now don't go too far from the jeep, 'cause you'll get bit," the driver said.

I walked for hours.  I could not find the jeep, when all of a sudden a cheetah was face to face with me.  I ran and ran.  I could already see the blood coming out of me.

The cheetah bit me.  I screamed for my life.  A couple of minutes later, I was home in an instant.  I went to my lab, and mixed some potions together to get the cheetah out of me.  But instead, I was on fire.

I could feel the flames.  I felt like I was off the ground.  I looked ..."What the heck," I said, " What is this, a joke?" Something in my head told me it wasn't.  "Now I know what to do," I said with an evil laugh.  I lifted up my car with no trouble.  Then I knew that I was now a super hero with super-strength, super-speed and firepower.  I help fight crime.  I help police catch villains.

And my name is the CHANGER.

Photo credits: The Tick I have no rights to, but he is my favorite. Legal use, Fern R and Spencer77 @ Flickr.

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