Tangible and Embodied Algebra Games. This is the title of a project at the University of Bremen, which is realized by 12 Digital Media and 2 Computer Science students in their master’s degree programs. In the project, we focus mainly on research and answering the question of how children can relate algebra concepts with a deep gamified system without showing any math symbols. Additionally, we want to investigate whether an interaction with a tangible character increases the player experience when playing an algebra game. Simply said we want to create a video game and inspect if novices in the algebraic discipline of linear equations are able to improve their understanding of those mathematical concepts and become more likely to grasp them. Furthermore, we want to include a physical object (tangible) and see if the interaction with it leads to more motivation, fun and a better understanding of the subject while playing the game.
All digital media and computer science students in their master’s degree program must complete one project as a part of their studies. Every year working groups in the department of computer science offer different master’s degree program projects for students. The beforementioned project, is offered by the digital media working group, led by Prof. Dr. Rainer Malaka. This project is supervised by Prof. Dr. Rainer Malaka, Dr.-Ing. Tanja Döring, Anke Reinschüssel and Dmitry Alexandrovsky.
The background of the project Tangible and Embodied Algebra Games relates to the research project MAL (multimodal algebra learning) funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany. The following description was extracted and translated from the Digital Media Lab website on the topic of the MAL project:
The aim of the project MAL (multimodal algebra learning), which is funded by the BMBF in the context of “Experiential Learning”, is to develop a technically supported multimodal algebra learning system that incorporates natural modalities in the interaction with digitally supported learning arrangements. The MAL project thus addresses two central problems of mathematics learning in the secondary and tertiary domains: Learners do not adequately train the necessary algebraic sense of structure and the strong heterogeneity in the teaching classes makes it difficult for teachers to meet the individual needs of learners. At the core of the multimodal learning system are comprehensible learning elements in the form of smart objects (e.g. in tile form), which can embody various algebra concepts, such as numbers (powers of one or ten) or variables (cf. the algebra tiles widely used in the North American school system).