Bottom Line: Two fun games for future Olympic stars in Track and Field, but the app needs more work to be useful for math.
Maths Champ is an app just in time for the Summer Olympics-obsessed child, developed by Dave Banks. Students practice math facts in a quiz format in three different levels: easy, medium, and hard. The challenge ends after ten correct answers or 30 seconds elapse.
After completing the math problems, players compete in one of two games—javelin throw and hurdles. The on-screen character is a cartoon turtle, Tommy, running upright. Although there are only two games, they are cute and easy to play, and my 8-year-old son enjoyed trying to better his score. The child is awarded a bronze, silver or gold medal at the end of each game.
In spite of the fun games, I had several problems with this app. First, the difficulty of the problems in each level is not consistent with the average child’s math skill development. In Easy, the addition and subtraction problems really are easy, with problems like 8 + 2=? and 7-3=? However, it also includes some multiplication problems, including 0, 2, 5, and 10’s. Most students learn these first multiplication facts in second and third grade in the United States, while the addition and subtraction are a first grade level.
In the medium level, the problems are similar—two-digit addition (49+50) and subtraction (98-37) included with division and all multiplication. My son, going into third grade, was not able to complete the division, and opted to stay at the less challenging easy level instead. The hard level problems, at least, seemed consistent in difficulty level, with problems like 289+408 and 252-141, but children who can mental math a significant number of those type problems in 30 seconds are much older than those at a first to third grade level.
Maths Champ also lacks a scoreboard outside of Game Center. There is no Top 10 score list within the app, to keep track of a child's best times on each game. Many teachers do not have internet access when at school, which makes this app less useful in the classroom.
There is also no correction mechanism. The app does not provide the correct answer if a question is answered incorrectly, nor does it track right or wrong answers in any way that would provide a parent/teacher insight into what work is needed.
In addition, any child who deliberates over a problem for long enough will soon discover that game play is not contingent on answering any questions right. The user has to simply let time elapse, and the bonus game will start. Better design would involve completing a certain number of problems before advancing to the game, or using a count up instead of a count down, and tracking the child's best times.
The sound is the only option to change in this game—it can be on or off. Besides the initial optional sign-in to Game Center, there are no outside links. I found it impossible to sign into the Game Center after initially declining.
Maths Champ is not among the best math apps, but at $.99 it at least is not overpriced. If your child likes the Olympics, it's worth a look if you want to get in a little summer math practice while playing the games.
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Heather Hetler, who works as a Speech-Language Pathologist, is the mother of 1+1+1 kids, with a collective age of 23. So far, she has only scored a bronze medal in the hurdles. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.