MicroSMILE Ratio

Reviewed by Rhona Dick
This review first appeared in the MAPE Newsletter Spring 2002

This latest software from MicroSMILE consists of four games based on ratio. As appears so often to be the case these days, this CD-ROM comes without any paper documentation; everything is contained on the CD. The pdf files provide a teachers' manual and classroom materials to supplement the games. Included within the classroom materials are some very attractive posters demonstrating ratio by using mathematical shapes.
There is plenty of scope here for pupils to create their own.

The games
Paint Mix consists of two games for one or two players.
In the first game, players must mix two colours of paint in a specified ratio to produce a given volume of paint; there are only four different quantities of paint that can be added at each turn.
Three points are awarded to the player who fills the container.
The winner of the game is the first player to reach 10 points.
In the second game, players must aim to create a paint mix of a given ratio, rather than a given quantity. In both games there are two levels of difficulty. An animated explanation appears if errors are made, and the opposing player is awarded one point.
Money Spin, a game for one or two players, has only one level of difficulty. A random number of pound coins is generated and players must aim to divide the coins in different ratios. The numbers 1 to 9 (only one of each) are dragged to boxes to create up to four ratios. I did have a problem when I was told to share 2. One point is awarded for each correct ratio created, and the game is over when one player reaches ten points.
Ratio Match is a three in a line game for one or two players.
There are two levels of difficulty.
These three games are all suitable for pupils at Key Stage 2. The final game is aimed at Key Stage 3 and above, but it could be used with more able top juniors.
Ratio Buster. Do you remember Blockbusters on TV? In this game, for one or two players, but which is much more exciting with two, the players aim to cross the hexagonal board by selecting numbers in turn. After selecting a number, the player is asked a ratio question; for example, the ratio of Tom's money to Lynne's money is 4:2; Tom has 16 how much does Lynne have? Players must type in the answer. Do not be deceived, the example I have given is quite straightforward, but some do involve fractional parts of pounds.

General features
The toolbar at the top provides various options for teachers and pupils. In some games, for example Ratio Match, turning on the sound icon means that pupils can hear the required ratios spoken. At the end of a game the winner is rewarded with claps and cheers. Icons enable you to toggle between one and two players and another provides brief instructions.
One nice touch is the 'copy screen' feature that in conjunction with the notepad, a common feature of many MicroSMILE programs, allows pupils to give written explanations of their reasoning. In fact, although this program principally targets ratio don't forget the Problem Solving element of Mathematics that is also covered here.
This is another top quality product from SMILE Mathematics; I thoroughly recommend it.

MicroSMILE Ratio costs 30 for a single user, a licence for 215 users is 60, 1650 users will cost 90, and a licence for more than 50 users is 120.
The program is available from SMILE Mathematics,
Isaac Newton Centre,
108a Lancaster Road,
London
W11 1QS;
Tel: 020 7598 4841;
Fax: 020 7598 4838;
e-mail: info@smilemathematics.co.uk;
web: www.smilemathematics.co.uk

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