Focus Group, R & D, and Designing a Math Game

20130306-053031.jpgThis morning I read a beautiful article about “Creating a Sacred Space in Your Heart.” It was about really focusing on drinking tea, instead of just drinking it mechanically. If we focus on something, on a molecular level, we actually change that thing. I have read about this before from Patti Digh over at 37days. She first introduced me to the scientific concept of paying attention to something and having it fundamentally change before your eyes. (I cannot find the article, but I will look for it. It seems to me that it was a Quantum Physics principle.)

I bring it up because I am seeing this happen in my world, in the area of Mathematics. I do not claim to be good at math. I am curious about it, and curious about the lives and histories of great mathematicians. For a long time, I have harbored silly crushes on the likes of Albert Einstein.

As my kids started developing talents in engineering, architecture and design, I knew we would need to focus on math for them to succeed in these fields, and I had to take the boring out of it (that is somehow or other force-fed in the classroom). We started playing Math Games every Tuesday Night, until the kids were really looking forward to it, and chiming in that it was time to play Math Games. For the last several months, we have been doing this.

In another week or so, we will be hosting a Math Games table at Ben’s school for their annual Pi Night, which, as far as I know is a time for families to come to the school and eat Pie. I don’t know that they have even focused on Math or the Fun in Math to date. I have found ideas online for other schools Pi Night math competitions and fun. I just don’t know that our school goes that far.

Sometime during the last week, Ben started developing his own Math Game. He has made his own dice out of paper, and a box to carry the game in, and a box for the cards that go along with it. Last night, we tried to play it, and found out along the way that we were actually the first Focus Group in the Research and Development phase of his game. Bean wanted more of the cards to give him opportunities to earn a monster, so we made that suggestion.


Figuring out how to keep score was the next challenge, and we drew out a couple of different scoring cards, until both kids realized that a Game Board was what we actually needed. We thought about some ways to lay it out, which included black lagoons to have to get across, and a dueling site, where monsters would have to pick up shields and swords.

Then both boys were drawing on card stock, their first ideas for game boards. It dawned on me that although we play a lot of games, we don’t play many with an actual board. I told Ben that as part of our R&D for his game, we would play a few different games with boards, so he could get the hang of the various challenges he could put in the way of players on their way to crossing the board.


We are very excited about this game. It has all sorts of potential. Ben is already imagining bringing it onto the school bus, and having kids play it, love it, bring it to their classrooms, their homes, and next thing you know, it’s all over the world, “And kids are making up their own games because they are so inspired.”

Focus. Attention. We play with math until we are having so much fun with it, we want other kids to have fun with it too, and we are dreaming of Global Math Nights.

2 thoughts on “Focus Group, R & D, and Designing a Math Game

  1. Oh, my gosh! You are so awesome! I was attempting to take a course on Coursera called Gamification. You might be interested in some of that. For what I participated in, it was quite interesting. FYI – a crush on Albert Einstein – not silly at all! 🙂

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