Monday, April 21, 2014

New toy for the Mathbreakers world

Well, we did it again! A new toy for the Mathbreakers world, the Number Riser (ok, maybe the name isn't permanent):

This one came about because we wanted to teach about Greater Than Less Than as well as the Number Line, and equivalence, both for integers and fractions. This machine accomplishes it all. 

It works by taking an input number (any number you find or make) into the funnel in the bottom. Then the platform rises up or down according to the size of the number -- 1/2 is shorter than 1, and 3 is taller than 2, etc.

This teaches:

Equivalence. If you need to make a Straight Path Bridge, all the Number Risers need to be the same value -- but you can't just put "1" into every funnel, that would be too easy! Instead, we restrict you to having only /2 fractions in one zone, /4 fractions in another zone, and only integers in a third zone. This way, you must put 2/2, 4/4, and 1 into the risers to make a straight path.

Number Line: The risers can be used as stairs, but it only works if each one has a number incrementally larger than the last. For example, you can make stairs with 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1. Once the stairs are created you can exit the puzzle.

Greater than / Less than: When two risers are next to each other, the size of the number inside each is obvious, because the height of the risers is different. If you want a riser to be higher or lower than another, you must find a greater or smaller number as the input.

The risers work with fractions and integers and are a great addition to the machines of Mathbreakers; a simple, easy to understand, visual, and yet very versatile toy to get your mind thinking spatially about number sizes.


  1. Thanks for allowing kids to find out that 13 looks really cool too! Although you can't cross it that way. LOVE the conceptual math, but perhaps a bit more obvious for the younger ones that you're showing equivalence? Subtle = sign?

  2. Equivalence is definitely an important to explicitly state, but keep in mind that Mathbreakers is a supplementary tool, not the primary source for learning. We look at our world as an opportunity to show equivalence from a different perspective, such as when two risers are the same height, or when x + -x = 0. This will help them understand equivalence on a deeper level without being explicitly told what equivalence is.

    However, we will keep your feedback in mind, and when designing our next puzzle set we will try to make a very obvious equivalence lesson. :-] Thanks!