If you’re looking for a great way to drill your elementary-aged kids on basic math facts, Meteor Math makes for a massive spoonful of sugar for that mathematical medicine. Back in September, Mind Shapes released this new universal iOS app that takes your basic math operand drills — addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division — and stuffs them into a game that resembles a touch-screen version of Asteroids. As you play, asteroids with numbers on them appear on the screen, and you have to use whichever operand it’s using at the moment to pick two numbers and make them equal the target number at the top of the screen. If you get it right, the asteroids explode, and you’re on to the next problem.
That’s simple enough, but the magic comes in the execution. In Meteor Math, the graphics are sharp and colorful, everything feels tight and responsive, and the audio is excellent, right down to the deep-voiced announcer who tells you every time you “Level up!” As you go, the game moves faster and provides more challenging problems for you to solve on the fly. If you take too long between problems, you lose lives until the game ends. You can play in three different modes — practice, compete, and survival — each with its own variations.
This is just the thing for your reluctant primary schooler who hates having to memorize and drill basic math problems over and over but loves playing video games in which you get to make things explode. My kids loved giving it a whirl, and I admit I lost many minutes to it myself. When it’s going well, you can get into a kind of zen state of soothing, Technicolor destruction that trains your brain while you make the universe safe for the less mathematically inclined.
Meteor Math for iPhone/iPad ($2.99)
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this app.