Monday, March 29, 2010

Review: Math Galaxy

 

MG_COM

This next review product, courtesy of the TOS Homeschool Crew, is one that I was sure my children would enjoy...even if it meant "more math"! (Gasp, shock, horror of horrors...)

Math Galaxy from Galaxy of Education provides several computer based programs that actually teach math concepts through a unique tutoring method. Each program focuses on one specific topic (from your basic addition to algebra and beyond), and breaks each problem down, step-by-step. If a student gets a problem wrong, Math Galaxy explains--in detail--how to get it right. (A concept that is sorely lacking in a lot of today's math "games".) Students also have the option of simply typing in the correct answer without utilizing the guided tutorial.

From the website: "Math Galaxy focuses student attention on concepts sequentially and interactively. (...)Unlike most math software, it goes beyond simple games, low-level operations or rule memorization to link familiar and concrete experiences to higher-level processes. (...) It stresses concepts that run through all of basic math to provide basic understanding rather than memorized rules. Our goal is to provide students a foundation for analytical thinking in the modern world and for higher-level math and science."

While the above features are all well and good (and believe me, Math Galaxy lives up to its claims very well), the graphics themselves have a slightly "dated" look to them. In fact, when we first opened Whole Numbers Fun, my son Ethan (11) asked, "So is this game like, from the 80's or something?" {So like, what are you saying, son? Ahem!}

Not that the 80's -- or the graphics-- were/are bad, it's just that my children and I are used to a more updated appearance. Therefore, we each uttered a surprised, "Whoa!" at first glance. However, the funky retro graphics were no longer an issue once we got started. At least from my perspective. :)

Whole Numbers Fun ($29.95) covers a wide range of whole number operations including addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, place value, time and more. I used this program with both Ethan and Abby. Neither one cared for it as it was "more math", but it was good for them. :) I enjoyed the fact that everything was presented simply and effectively and saved me from having to print another worksheet. (However, truth be told, Abby prefers worksheets to computer work any day. Ethan however, is the exact opposite. Go figure.)

ORDER_F Fractions Fun ($29.95) covers everything from adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing & reducing fractions. I started using this program with Sierra who wasn't fond of it. {The reason being that she can't just randomly type numbers in until she gets the right answer. She actually has to learn it! *Wink-wink* She also said that "fractions" and "fun" do not belong in the same sentence. Ahem.} However, I do plan on incorporating it on a permanent basis into her daily math assignments. Because again, it's good for her. :) 

Decimals Fun ($29.95) tutors students in all aspects of decimal operations. This is the program that I specifically got for (ahem) myself because I've never been able to understand decimals to save my life. {Umm..does it bother you that I'm homeschooling my kids?} I am very thankful for the step-by-step protocol (insert applause here) and wish my math teachers had access to something like this "back in the 80's." While I'm not a Decimal Diva just yet, I'm working on it.

Pre-Algebra Fun ($29.95) offers a plethora of problems spanning the vast, inner workings of pre-algebra: exponents, absolute value, factors, percentages and more. We've barely touched the tip of the iceberg with this program. It's beefy and best served in small bites. For us, at least. :)

Algebra Fundamentals ($29.95) picks up where Pre-Algebra leaves off. In addition to the previously mentioned topics, students are now introduced to simplifying, 1 and 2 step equations, 1 and 2 step inequalities, and more. Our opinion of this program is the same as above. It's very detailed--which is great, but we're not quite ready for it. However, I am impressed with how once again the concepts are broken down in manageable chunks.

In addition to computer based learning, Math Galaxy also offers the following worksheet generators for $29.95 each:

  • Whole Numbers
  • Decimals, Proportions and Percentages
  • Algebra
  • Fractions

Last but not least, Whole Numbers and Fractions Riddles E-books can be purchased for $14.95 each. And just so you know, every Math Galaxy product comes with a 30 day, money back guarantee. To learn more, please click here.

Final Thoughts

While the graphics and lack of fluff threw me off just a bit, I do appreciate the solid foundation behind Math Galaxy. I enjoyed the endless supply of problems, the element of competition (with yourself or in a 2-player format for some of the exercises), and the option of using worksheets in conjunction with the computer-based lessons. I wasn’t so sure if I’d be open to paying $29.95 for each topic, however when I considered the fact that each program can be used with multiple children over their entire academic career, it balanced out quite nicely. Sadly, my children didn’t enjoy Math Galaxy as much as I thought they would. While I was able to dismiss the graphics within a few minutes, they had a harder time getting over the Atari look. Overall, I’d give Math Galaxy 1.5 thumbs up. :)

To read what my fellow Crew members had to say about this product, please click here.

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