Teaching kids maths has gone high-tech – and hopefully fun – with the Sifteo Cubes – as long as you have a couple of hundred quid to splash out. Unlike most games offerings for children, the Cubes don’t feature touchscreens – instead the players move the blocks around and touch them against each other to create patterns and solve puzzles.
It’s an interesting use of near-field communications (NFC) technology – something that often appears in the latest mobile phones but generally fails to have much in the way of real-use applications as yet.
The cubes have in-built accelerometers, so also know when they’re being tilted. All the information is sent back to a nearby computer via wireless USB.
There are a number of games to play (three are included with the six pack starter kit set). Puzzle games, for instance, ask the player to match colours and move dots – think Tetris but with another dimension. There are also maze games that require the player to combine pieces of path to move around the games’ character, and word games. Extra games cost around £5 each.
At £200 a pack, the Sifteo Cubes are rather pricey for your average family (although I guess you might ask how much you paid for your games console?). But the cubes might well be attractive to schools and educational groups – the makers say they are ideal for special educational needs learning.
Also, children learn in different ways, and if your child is a tactile/kinesthetic learner, and prefers to learn by experience (touching, moving, doing) you may be particularly interested in the Sifteo Cubes.
In a ground breaking move, Casio is set to turn the world of calculators on its head yet again with the launch of its fx- CG20 graphing calculator. Casio created the world’s very first graphing calculator back in 1985 with the 422 byte fx-7000G, giving maths students the opportunity to create their own graphs by inputting complex equations directly into the calculator and viewing the results of their labours on a small mono screen. It was cutting edge at the time, but its heavily tokenised programming language allowed it to perform some pretty chunky tasks nonetheless.
Casio’s new calculator has two revolutionary features to it. A 3.7 inch high resolution display capable of 65,000 colours, making those pie charts almost too sexy for words; and perhaps more importantly, a picture plotting application, another world first for Casio. It opens up a whole new way to learn maths by enabling students to experiment with creating their own graphs over pictures of real life scenes. For example, there are already fifty five built in pictures that can be accessed such as the parabola of jets from a water fountain or an image sequence of a clock’s pendulum movement.
Of course, with such a generous colour palette, spreadsheets can be brought to life and colours can be added to standard graphing objects such as dotted lines, circles and bars etc. They can be linked to values in the spreadsheet screen and the calculator will automatically colour-code brackets when there are equations using multiple brackets. For scale demonstrations the calculator can be connected to one of Casio’s green Slim Line projectors for super size imaging.
Clearly, this new technology will find its way into mainstream calculators and will no doubt ensure that Casio remains at the forefront of a market it has dominated for decades.