What is Interactive Math?

G. Wiesen

Interactive math is a method by which a person can learn and use mathematics in a way that is interactive, beyond solving problems in a book or using a pencil and paper. To a certain extent, the use of a calculator can be a form of interactive mathematics as a person enters numbers and equations into the calculator to help find a solution. More complicated interactive math, however, often takes the form of games, computer programs, and other forms of interactive content that allow a person to take a more active role in using and understanding math.

Using a calculator can be a form of interactive math.
Using a calculator can be a form of interactive math.

There are a number of forms of interactive math that do not involve any types of electronics or electronic devices. These can include games that allow students or other individuals to solve math problems while progressing through the game. Even a simple board game that includes dice or other devices to generate how a person moves each turn can be forms of interactive math. When a player rolls the dice, he or she must add together the numbers on them and then apply that number to how his or her character or token moves throughout the game.

Interactive math goes beyond using a pencil and paper.
Interactive math goes beyond using a pencil and paper.

More elaborate forms of interactive math often involve the use of computers and electronic media, however, to create interactive experiences that combine audio, visual, and tactile learning processes. A game on a computer, for example, can include audio queues that help a person better relate to information, especially someone who may not be strongly visually oriented. The same game will often have visual elements that come up on a screen or monitor as well, which makes a single game applicable for different types of learners. Students will usually play these interactive math games by using a mouse and keyboard, which involves physical actions on the part of the student as well.

These types of interactive math games can take a wide range of forms and be applicable to many different aspects of math. For beginners learning numbers and simple mathematics, there are matching games in which they have to match numbers, count shapes to determine which ones match, and even perform simple mathematical functions to find matching numbers. There are also games that present common mathematical puzzles and riddles for people to solve, creating a clear application of math other than pencil and paper problem solving. These types of interactive math activities are not only good ways to reach a variety of different learners, but also help students understand how math can be applicable and have meaning beyond a problem in a textbook.

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