Math + Games = Fun! If the preceding equations appeals to you, you’ll probably like Calx. You Nerd. 😉
For ages teachers and schools have tried to come up with ways of making learning fun and enjoyable. Being a parent of three children from the age of 2 up to age 12, I’ve witnessed the true birthing of “edutainment” and witnessed its awesome power of influence over the minds of the young.
Sure I’m going to sound like a dinosaur complaining about how good kids have it today, but to be honest, I’m happy that they’re learning in new ways and that somebody finally came up with a better way to make learning fun. TV stations like the Discovery Channel, started taking the “boring” out of documentary. I remember falling asleep many times in science class, as we watched films — sometimes from the 1950s that my parents may have fallen asleep to when they were young. But today with MTV’s influence on the quick and snappy edits and wild camera angles, mixed with hosts whose personalities were fun and interesting and didn’t make you pray for an immediate brain hemorrhage, it’s possible to learn new things and not even realize that you’re being exposed to education.
I’m also impressed with the design of the Apple line of mobile devices, from the iPod touch to the iPad. My 2 year old son already knows his way around my iPod Touch, and frequently uses it to play some flashcard learning apps. He’s already months ahead of my 4 year old who grew up using my wife’s 2nd generation iPod Touch. These kids are going to grow up not only being exposed to more fun and entertaining education, but they’re also interacting with learning tools that I wouldn’t have been able to seeing as the family Apple //c required you to be able to use a keyboard and read.
Calx is an iOS game for both the iPhone/iPod Touch and the iPad that combines math equations substituing numbers for letters with popular world-tile games like Text Twist and Bookworm. While my kids are too young to really enjoy this one, it does make the concept of creating and solving math equations, well… fun!
While Calx might seem intimidating with its focus on math, it’s actually deceptively easy. The goal in Calx is to find and “solve” as many equations in the mix of numbers and operators, but doesn’t require you to actually do the math.
You create equations by running your finger across number tiles starting with the first number and connecting it with other numbers and operators in adjacent circles.
You don’t have to be a math whiz in order to play and enjoy Calx, but it certainly helps having the solution in your head before creating an equation. The game will do the math for you once you join two numbers (or sets of numbers) with an operator in the middle (e.g. 20 + 55). Calx will display the equation and the solution (e.g. 75) below the gameboad. It’s up to you at that point to find the solution starting at any valid number on the gameboard — as long as the numbers in the solution are adjacent to one another and aren’t already used as part of your equation.
You have a time limit to find and solve equations. Creating and solving complex creations will add more points and will also help extend your time.
Calx has a hip and upbeat music, and it also has a nice presentation, but on the small iPod screen it can feel a bit cramped.
The problem with Calx is that it has small buttons on the iPod Touch version that makes drawing lines to create equations sometimes difficult, resulting in inadvertently matched numbers due to a condition called “fat fingerness.” The start/options buttons on the bottom of the screen are also very small and thin. While Calx was not tested on the iPad, I can only imagine that the iPad is the most ideal device to play Calx.
Calx’s visual style, which nice, is also a bit confusing when it comes to text on the screen. The instructional screens adopt the game’s one-character-per-circle design which makes reading the help sceens a little difficult to read. See the screenshot above for more details.
Calx is currently a free download for iOS devices. It’s like a world-tile puzzle using numbers instead of letters.
While you don’t have to be a math whiz, it does help when it comes to setting up equations for the best possible points.
Some of Calx’s biggest issues are due to the small size of the iPhone/iPod Touch screen where selecting specific numbers and operators sometimes results in accidentally selecting adjacent ones. This is probably not an issue on the iPad. Even the developer, codemachinery, states that Calx is best played on iPad.
Puzzle gamers who enjoy word-tile games like Bookwork or Text Twist, but substituting numbers for letters, will like this. You don’t have to be a math nerd to enjoy Calx.