Algebra Explained Chapter 2 provides 14 lessons in introductory algebra, starting with Enough Money (an introduction to negative numbers) and ending with Profit or Loss (chapter review.) We reviewed Chapter 1 Order of Operations previously.
Each of the 14 lessons, which focus on negative numbers, absolute value, fractions, and order of operations, has four parts: Teach Me, Study Cards, Practice and History. The Teach Me section is comprised videos of an instructor named Jamie, who does an excellent job explaining each concept in an appropriate way for the target audience of older kids.
The lessons are easy to follow, very well-written and do a great job of applying math concepts to real-world situations in a humorous way. For example, in Lesson 2 (Positive, Negative, or Zero) the concepts are explained through Jamie's assistant, five-year old Carter, who wants to buy a car but doesn't have enough money. On-screen formula breakdowns and frequent background/location changes help keep things interesting.
The video lessons are all about 3-6 minutes long, perfect for getting kids into the concepts without boring them. I started going through them with Ethan and his first response was "How long is this?" and when I said "three minutes" he had no response. Take that kid! Three minutes!
Video tutoring offers a lot of features that I like: the lessons can be paused and rewound if necessary and the teacher can disappear from the classroom and immediately be shown walking through the woods. Real-world rules do not apply.
The Study Card mode is functional and has a ton of features but is clunky and hard to work through. The Practice/Test Mode is easier to use. They feature virtual scratch and graph paper, a calculator, and email functionality.
I think adding a video tutorial hosted by Jamie and Carter for each of the study/test functions would make a huge difference. A History mode records how the child has done on each of the Practice Mode tests. When all the lessons are completed, the player earns a diploma that they can email to themselves.
I considered whether to give Algebra Explained four or four-and-a-half stars, but decided with the latter because 14 well-done video lessons, study cards, and tests for $3.99 is such a great buy. Just a few years ago they were selling stuff like this on DVD for a heckuva lot more than $3.99 and tutoring would cost even more than that.
I've selected 9-11 as one of the age parameters for Algebra Explained because I think it is well done enough to give kids a head start, but for most kids algebra will fall into the 12-up category. Ethan is advanced for his age in math but was able to follow most of the lessons and do well on the tests and he is just seven, so if you've got a math whiz in your house, the age range can certainly be expanded.
There isn't a free trial for Chapter 2, but I've included links to the trial version of Chapter 1 if you want to get an idea of how Algebra Explained works.
If you would like to purchase Algebra Explained: Chapter 2 Negative Numbers please use the links provided. The cost is the same, but Smart Apps receives a small percentage. Thanks for your support!
This review was written by by Ron Engel, who was once very good in math but has since suffered too much significant brain trauma. iLearnFastSoftware, the developer of Algebra Explained Chapter 2 Negative Numbers, is an advertiser at smartappsforkids.com