Mastermaths Software (Oxford University Press) Review | A&B Computing - Everygamegoing

A&B Computing

Mastermaths Software
By Oxford University Press
BBC Model B

Published in A&B Computing 2.09

This is a suite of four programs, available on two cassettes or a disc, to reinforce work on the four rules of number. They form part of the Mastermaths course produced by OUP for junior children, although can be used with/outside any scheme. They are drills and skills types of programs and generally support rote learning rather than understanding of number. The use of an arcade game with each program might encourage those who do not enjoy "arithmetic" and, hopefully, there might be some spin off. Children used to sophisticated "zapping" games would not be overimpressed with the colour and the quality of the graphics.

Each of the programs has 6-7 levels of difficulty plus a demonstration mode, which concentrates on errors too much for my liking.

Addition: Buried Treasure. Each answer to an addition sum is rewarded by a number from 1 to 3 randomly selected on the right hand side of the screen. You then control the movement to the left or right of the grid by using the <> keys. In this way you collect rings, money bags or crowns or descend down the mine to the treasure chest as quickly as possible. Beware the monster if you're too slow or give the wrong answer!

Subtraction: Catch the Joker. Balls are accumulated in the store for each correct answer given and can be released at any time or when the store is full. Points are scored by catching the balls in three levels of cups - for top score catch the balls in the nets under the cups and then try to knock over a joker by releasing the ball at the right moment. Not sure which is more important - arithmetic skill or hand/eye co-ordination.

Multiplication: Tangled Web. Correct answers move you along the web (press the Spacebar and try to stop the number counter on the right hand side of the screen at the desired number) and you have to beat the hungry spiders by helping the fly to escape. The tarantula may drop down on you if you give a wrong answer or a second spider will eat you if it can. Frustrating to be eaten in the home strait!

Division: Air Balloons. Similar to Subtraction with balloons replacing balls and arrows replacing cups and nets.

These can be quite motivating if games are your philosophy, but I can think of far more valuable uses of the computer and far better maths programs on which to spend money!

Des Thomas

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