Bottom Line: Potentially great problem-solving and math computation app for 2nd graders and up, but needs a few fixes.
32, a math app from William Gann of Blonde Beagle Apps, is a simple-to-learn app targeting math computation and problem-solving skills. The goal is to make every equation equal 32. With five different levels and over 200 problems, the app can be used (at the easiest level) by anyone with a solid skill level in addition beyond sums of 20 — in my school, 2nd grade for most students. Parents and teachers looking to keep their minds active may enjoy a few rounds as well.
There are two separate apps in the app store: 32 for the iPhone/iPod Touch, and 32 HD for the iPad. Both cost just $.99, and are identical — the HD version is simply optimized for the iPad, with no fuzzy pixilation. The app is not universal, so those who wish to use the app on both an iPhone and iPad will have to buy both, or put up with a less clear picture on the iPad.
In the game, there are blank boxes with numbered tiles below. The user has to place the numbered tiles into the boxes to create an equation that equals 32. The score counts down from 3200 toward zero as time passes. When the user drags and drops the right combination of number tiles onto the board, the timer stops and the score is displayed, along with a high score designation if the computation was fast enough.
The five levels in this app make it accessible to a wide range of math ability levels. Level 1 is simply addition — which four numbers, when added together, equal 32? For example, one problem included tiles 11, 12, 7, 4, and 5. A quick problem solver will soon figure out that 11+ 12 + 4 + 5 = 32.
For children with a little more anxiety, the countdown might at first cause stress. However, I typed this paragraph and then solved the problem on the iPad, and still received a score of 1406. (An option to turn of the timer would still be appreciated in a later update.)
In level 2, the premise is the same, but this time the user has to take careful note of the operation sign, now indicating both addition and subtraction. With number tiles 18, 19, 5, 2, and 3, problem-solving skills become much more useful in this level. For this one, the presentation was X + Y – Z – A, for which the answer was 18 + 19 – 2 - 3=32.
Level 3 is a big jump up, adding multiplication and division to addition and subtraction. Parentheses are also included, requiring the player to follow the order of operations. For anyone who has forgotten everything they learned in math class, the rules to follow can be summed up by the acronym Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally, or PEMDAS (Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction). For players with complete memory loss who still feel perplexed, the about screen, accessed from the home menu, explains the process.
In Level 4, there are still addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and parentheses. However, now there are five numerals in each problem. At the highest level (5), puzzles again use four numerals, adding exponents to all of the previous operations. In one level 5 problem, the numerals 8, 7, 6, 9, and 5 were used to create 92 - 62 – (8 + 5)=32. I needed paper to solve most problems in Level 5 but enjoyed the mental challenge!
This app has a lot of educational potential. Teachers can easily use it in a center or partner activity, even with just one classroom iPad. An accompanying worksheet could be easily created to track problems solved. It could be useful for a wide level of grades, from second grade through pre-algebra or even algebra. This app has great possibilities.
There are also no ads or social media links, making it a safer app for in the classroom. There is a “More Games” selection on the home page, linking to other William Gann apps on the app store.
This is not a game with built-in incentives like many other apps targeted to children, so most kids might not choose it for fun. My math-loving 10-year old was very engaged by solving the problems and trying to get a higher score; my 8-year old only played under my directive, claiming it wasn’t fun enough. However, as soon as he had success, he was willing to try to beat his own score.
I like the game play and idea of 32 a great deal, but it has several issues that make it impossible to recommend at this point.
Sometimes, my correct answer was not accepted. In level 4 with the numbers 8, 9, 5, 6, 2, and 3, one solution is 8 + (2 x 3) x 5 - 6. However, when these numbers were placed in the squares, the game did not advance. Neither did 5 + (2 x 3) x 6 – 9. It didn’t advance until I found 8 + (5 x 3) X 2 - 6. (Editor's note: I retested and was able to find a correct answer that wasn't accepted as correct in about 10 minutes of play.)
In other cases, sometimes changing one number to make the equation correct didn’t work — I had to take off all numbers then put the same numbers on again. This can obviously become very confusing, especially for kids when they are sure it is right.
The high score tracking could also be improved. Right now, it keeps track of the high score in each level by simply noting the highest score possible. Allowing a name to be attached to the high score would be ideal for those using the app in a classroom or even in a family with more than one child.
Also, including a way to track the number of problems solved in one game-playing session would be helpful. Teachers could then instruct students to play five rounds, for example, then pass to the next student, while parents could do the same for their own children—for example, play 10 rounds of 32 before playing a "fun" game or app. A total high score board would also be nice, keeping track of the score on each problem for a set number of rounds.
My biggest frustration was actually a little thing — the app does not rotate on the iPad. Therefore, I couldn’t use the trifold cover stand to allow the iPad to be angled on the table, as it was then facing the wrong direction. It could only be used with a flat cover.
Overall, as much as I like parts of 32, I can't recommend a math app that makes computation errors. I am keeping it on my iPad, however, to keep an eye on it when updated.
If you would like to purchase 32 please use the links provided. The cost is the same, but Smart Apps receives a small percentage. Thanks for your support!
This review was completed by Heather Hetler, who works as an elementary school SLP and is a full-time graduate student in Speech-Language Pathology. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.
What do the stars mean?
Five Stars: The best of the best. We've reviewed, featured, given away, and tested thousands of apps and only given 19 apps the full five stars.
Four-and-a-half Stars: One of our Top Picks. We highly recommend this app.
Four Stars: Just a notch below the best. Recommend.
Three-and-a-half Stars: Has enough strong points to recommend if you have a specific need is this area. Definitely take a look.
Three Stars: Worth a look, but only worth downloading if it targets a specific educational target you are looking for.
Below Three Stars: Not recommended.