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Reviews of “Mathematical Journey” – the original version of the mastery game that will be incorporated in our educational video game – Straylings. The game was trialled at North Ainslie Primary School in Canberra in 2000.

Mathematical Journey is a game aimed at improving children’s mental arithmetic. It is aimed at assisting and training them to carry out processes in their head and to have immediate recall of many number combinations. These abilities are basic to many everyday activities, for a pencil and paper, a calculator or a computer are not always at our fingertips. Even when they are, we need to be able to mentally compute an approximate answer to ensure that we have not made an error in entering information.

Mathematical Journey has many possibilities as the numbers, processes and themes can be changed to suit the need. The child, teacher, parent or group can design the game to meet their needs, themes and interests. The game will not go out of favour with the passing of the latest craze: it can easily wear the face of each craze as it comes and goes.

If we are to improve children’s numeracy skills, we must ensure that they feel confident about what they are doing and enjoy it. This game is structured in such a way as to enable a child to be involved in challenging thinking while being supported and encouraged.

Mathematical Journey provides intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and satisfaction as each child works to achieve an improved personal best whether as a member of a team or as a solitary player.
It is designed to improve memory and response times and holds players’ attention as they ensure that no incorrect answer passes undetected, for such a response would sabotage the game and the team’s attempt to
do better.

Mathematical Journey is designed to be used in short, frequent sessions, as an introduction or reward. It provides the opportunity to build on and enhance a child’s listening, speaking, abstract processing and team-building skills. It should improve a child’s love of mathematics, as well as their self-confidence and motivation.

Margaret Hird. Principal, North Ainslie Primary School

Mathematical Journey has genuine educational benefits. It encourages children to work orally and to keep numbers and working in their head. Children in recent years seem to be having increasing difficulty with oral mental problems, possibly the result of becoming accustomed to computer screens on which everything is visual. This game is a way to have children listen and visualise without the aid of a picture.

The game worked well when it was introduced at a very simple level. Children were encouraged to beat their initial time and get a personal best. Once they become confident, the level of difficulty can
be increased.

We did encounter the problem of children with limited abilities slowing the game to a snail’s pace. This was overcome by pairing them with another child. The activity could also be done as one of a
series of rotational activities where children were grouped according to their capabilities and the problems adjusted in the game to suit these children.

Having the children stand and sit down as they had completed their turn also kept children on their toes. Those children who were still to have their turn stayed more alert and as the numbers of children standing decreased the excitement increased in their endeavour to improve their time.
Mathematical Journey is best played in short bursts of, say, twenty minutes on a regular daily basis, rather than for a long period of time. We found that using a stopwatch to enable children to improve their times makes the game a real challenge.

Gail Mason, Master Teacher, North Ainslie Primary School