Last Monday, while shopping, I was buying peanuts which they sell in 13-ounce bags and 16-ounce bags. (Thirteen ounces?) I don’t normally think of myself as having math anxiety, but on the other hand, I don’t usually attempt to divide by a number like 13 in my head. I’ve been testing Bubbly Primes recently at work, and by no coincidence, the peanut’s price was close to a number I recognized from the game. In a flash, I saw that it was actually easy to figure out the better deal. It was the smaller package.
The whole incident reminded me of something that I already knew, namely that in everyday life we’re constantly applying the same skills and knowledge Bubbly Primes helps us acquire. It’s more than a fun way to improve our grades in math classes.
Speaking of which, we’ve recently added a series of articles to the Bubbly Primes website that answer math questions, focusing on ones relevant to people who play Bubbly Primes. For example, there is an explanation of “What is a Prime Number?” “How do you Cross-Cancel,” “The Sieve of Eratosthenes,” and more.
Here’s a list of the current articles. As time goes by, we’ll try to add additional topics, and keep an up-to-date list on the About Bubbly Primes Math Help page. If you have ideas for math-help topics, please send them to us.
Before putting the Math Help pages online, I showed drafts to a few people to see what their reactions might be. Most people liked them, but some people were uncomfortable simply because the topic was math. I reworked the pages over and over, in an effort to make them less intimidating. I’ve also been adding drawings, photos, and examples. I’ve been writing in a friendly, conversational voice to ease math anxiety, and build comfort and enthusiasm.
Sometimes I have conversations about math with people who had bad experiences as kids, experiences that make math hard for them as adults. They avoid reading, learning, and doing things that are well within their actual capabilities. It can be hard to discuss math topics without activating their anxieties. This is a significant problem for many people, and one of the goals of Bubbly Primes is to help adults and kids become comfortable with math.
How can we avoid triggering anxiety in a math game? In this blog, we’ve discussed the calming effect of the music. The floating playfulness of Bubbly Prime’s undersea world is also designed to reduce anxiety. There’s another tactic too, involving the numbers themselves. The idea is to make the bubbles in the game seem more like game characters than abstract numbers.
Think of it this way: we could have created an entertainment game in which players learn that “pale green dragons go after eggs as soon as they appear.” Instead, in Bubbly Primes (without focusing on the abstract numbers) you learn things like “51 splits into 17 and 3 whenever you tap it.”
The great thing is that math facts are useful in real life, even in the grocery store!