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NMSU's Math Snacks teach facts

Knowledge-hungry students and teachers are mentally munching on "Math Snacks" at a camp being held this week at the Tri-Border Innovation Center in Anthony, N.M. The purpose of the camp is to familiarize students and teachers with math-teaching videos, tools and games developed by New Mexico State University's Math Snacks team.

Students and teachers gather at Math Snacks camp in Anthony, N.M. (Courtesy photo)

Researchers at NMSU first developed Math Snacks in 2009 with a grant from the National Science Foundation and are continuing to develop educational animations, mini-games and interactive tools that help children in grades 5-8 better understand math.

"Our tools teach key concepts in new and innovative ways," said Karen Wiburg, the associate dean for research in NMSU's College of Education and primary investigator of the Math Snacks Program. "All of our materials are internet based and available free at mathsnacks.com. We also have products in the iTunes application store including Pearl Diver, a collection of videos and an iPad video player."

Pearl Diver is a game that teaches one of those tricky math concepts, in this case, number line properties and equality and order on the number line. Another snack available for students is called "Atlantean Dodgeball." This video and accompanying worksheets address ratios by following coaches in an dodgeball tournament that takes place in Atlantis.

While filling in these knowledge gaps is important, Wiburg points out that Math Snacks are not a complete meal. They instead emphasize specific areas of mathematics that students and teachers have trouble with. The purpose of Math Snacks is to fill in these knowledge gaps by using technology and providing information to students in short, easily digestible, visual forms.

For information about the camp or Math Snacks contact Wiburg at kwiburg@nmsu.edu. Barbara Chamberlin is co-primary investigator and director of development of all Math Snacks products in the Learning Games Lab and may be reached at bchamber@nmsu.edu. For Math Snacks games and downloads, visit http://mathsnacks.com/index.php.