The University of Northern Iowa has released the first in a series of electronic math games aimed at helping elementary students in the classroom. The iTunes game, titled "Tapatan," is similar to tic-tac-toe and requires students to use spatial reasoning and logic. The application was developed by the Regents' Center for Early Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (CEESTEM), which is based at UNI. The game can be played on iPads, iPhones, and iTouches.
Betty Zan, associate professor at CEESTEM, said "Tapatan," is just the beginning of what the center hopes will be a long line of iTune apps. "There are more than 100 math games on our website right now that we are gradually turning into apps," said Zan. "We've also worked this past school year with a Cedar Falls first grade, four second-grade teachers and two math coaches to help them use math games as a supplement to the math curriculum."
Beth Van Meeteren, director of Regents' Center for Early Developmental Education, worked closely with teachers at Southdale Elementary School. "They told me students wanted to stay in from recess to play the math games and when they had indoor recess because of rain or cold weather, the games were often what [the students] ran to get," said Van Meeteren. "What is so wonderful about the games, is that [the students] are doing so many mathematical operations at once in interesting and engaging ways. It's much more challenging than a worksheet."
According to Van Meeteren, Southdale teachers met with UNI faculty every other week to discuss new games and how the games related to their curriculum. "We are so grateful for their time and feedback," said Van Meeteren.
The CEESTEM works to create hands-on, interactive classroom activities that encourage young children to develop and use scientific inquiry processes to explore and better understand their environments. The goal is to not only increase the number of students who choose to pursue careers in STEM fields, but also raise the scientific literacy of all students.