In context game-based learning games are used as an interesting context to pose mathematical problems. When students play the mathematical context games, they are not doing mathematics but do solve mathematical problems related to the games. For example, in the water bottle flipping activity students play a game to see how many times in a minute they can flip a water bottle and get it to land straight up.
In the activity, students do five one minute trials in which they record how many lands of the water bottle they can make in one minute. The world record for this is 47 lands in one minute. Based on the five trials students then calculate their average number of lands per minute. Students then fill in a table based on this average and answer follow-up questions (Figure 1). The activity has students work with proportional and linear equations through tables and equations. In the whole class discussion after students have answered the questions, connections can also be made to the graphs of students’ equations and interpreting the graphs in the context of the game. Questions can also be posed to compare equations in regards to slope.
The context of water bottle flipping engages students and allows for interesting questions to be asked. Students are able to interpret mathematical answers in the context of the game and make connections between representations. Another example of context game-based learning is the paper basketball activity. In this activity students estimate and calculate how many paper balls will fit into a bucket. After doing the mathematical work students then race to see who can make the most shots of paper balls into the bucket in a minute. This game is engaging and motivates the mathematical work through different representations that incorporates measurement, mean, volume of spheres, and linear and proportional equations. Doing mathematics in the context of games engages students through interesting mathematical work, movement, and healthy competition.
Christian, author, and professor of mathematics education.