The sequel to Slice Fractions, Slice Fractions 2 is an adventure game that helps children learn how to correctly identify, multiply, and equate fractions through a series of physics puzzles. Based on the Common Core State Standards, Slice Fractions 2 was developed in partnership with the Université du Québec á Montréal, and costs $3.99.
Slice Fractions 2 gives a very comprehensive set of lessons on fractions without making the player feel like they’re in the midst of a lesson. There are no verbal or written instructions; sometimes an animated finger will demonstrate how to carry out a new action or give a hint if the player is struggling, but otherwise the player is challenged to experiment. The player makes their way, solving puzzles ranging from identifying equal parts of a rectangle to finding common denominators, all without writing a single equation.
The overall goal of the game is to help clear paths for your wooly mammoth guide as he searches for the evil giant snail who has stolen his hat. There are three different worlds you get to explore with the mammoth, and they’re all beautifully designed and animated. Whether you’re helping hungry ghosts or flying narwhals, the game certainly isn’t boring.
Often I spent more time on the physics puzzles than the actual fraction-related math the game is intended to teach. In the game, there are different blocks representing fractions suspended from various contraptions, and you have to determine in what order and at what time to release them so that the blocks accurately match up with the fractions obstructing the mammoth’s path. While I appreciate the fact that the additional challenge lengthens the game and increases interest for more advanced learners, I found it frustrating when I knew an answer to the math problem, but couldn’t solve it because the puzzle was keeping me from answering. The game is called Slice Fractions, not Slice Physics.
I generally like the emphasis on experimentation to solve the puzzles, but every now and then I would have appreciated specific instructions, especially when there were many moving parts in the puzzle. An optional hint button would be nice.
There is no doubt that this game holds great educational potential, and its ability to hide math learning in a fun setting is admirable. However, perhaps simplifying some of the puzzles would ensure that an emphasis on physics wasn’t inhibiting players’ fraction learning.Image: by Melanie Hering