Slip Sliders

Slip Sliders is the latest in my series of visual puzzles for iOS and tvOS devices.  Slip Sliders joins Critter Mates, The Bird Puzzle, The Menagerie and The Hungry Rat as visual puzzles designed to help develop logical thinking skills.

I’ve always enjoyed puzzles and so having the opportunity to design them is particularly rewarding.  For Slip Sliders, I needed a set of icons that could be paired up as part of solving the puzzle. Using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop I created a set of birds.  It works great to draw the images large (512px x 512px) and then shrink them to the size of the icons.  By the way, I liked the birds so much I made a couple of coffee cups using the images.  The icons slide based on a particular set of rules.  They move in the one direction (left, down, right or up) until they hit an obstacle.  One of the tricky parts about solving the Slip Sliders’ puzzles is that sometimes you will need to create the obstacles in order to be able to change the direction that the slider can move.

Initially the puzzles are fairly simple and a solution can be achieved with just a few moves. Show below is how the first puzzle looks on an Apple TV.  Obviously the solution is simple, just move each of the birds on the left to the right and they will find a mate.  The birds on the left are sliders and therefore they can be moved.  The birds on the right stay in a fixed position and are the targets.

Slip Sliders Screen 1

In the second puzzle things get a little more difficult.  The birds cannot just simply be moved down because the first two need to switch columns.  I like this type of problem because the are multiple solutions.  If you are a teacher and use problems like this with your students you will find that one benefit is that several students can share different answers and it is not just the first student who finds a solution that gets the reinforcement.

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As you progress through the puzzles by tapping the right arrow, the puzzles get even more challenging.  For example, in the puzzles shown below from an iPad screen, how are you going to get the slider to stop on the red bird show in approximately the middle of the screen?

Slip Sliders Screen 3

If you like puzzles you might like Slip Sliders.   For $0.99 you get the iPad and Apple TV versions.  For more information about the Slip Sliders app, please visit our website. The app is available at iTunes.

 

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Line Design (a.k.a. String Art)

In general, one of my goals in designing the Hands-On Math apps was to create ways to simulate learning experiences that students would have if using actual manipulatives.  Simulated manipulatives can offer additional learning opportunities.

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Special features, in the Line Design app, take the learning opportunities beyond what can be down with physical manipulates.  For example, a grid with the x and y axes labelled can be added to the image.

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Line Design can be used for exploring the relationship between geometry and art.  In addition to calling line designs, string art, sometimes it is referred to as aesthenometry, Using the term, aesthenometry, refers more to the aesthetic beauty of the designs.

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It is always fun for students to use boards, nails and various colors of embroidery thread to make string artworks to hang on their wall.  The process involves lots of careful planning, measuring and some materials (boards, nails and string).  The Line Design app can be used to plan the project and to provide help in choosing the colors and design patterns to be used.

Personally my favorite pattern to use for instructional purposes is the circle.  When the circle design is selected a slider appears.  Using the slider the number of points on the circle can be set to any number between 3 and 36.

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There are lots of mathematically interesting explorations that are available in this mode.  Here are a couple of suggestions:

  1. With the number of points set to 12, what shape will result if lines are draw to connect every other point?
  2. What shape results when the number of points is set to 10 and every other point is connected.  What about connecting every fourth point.
  3. What’s the difference between setting the number of points to a prime number versus a composite number?
  4. Set the number of points to 24.  Explore connecting every 4, 6, or 8 point.

The learning environment gets even richer if the circular protractor is added to the iPad display.  In this mode students can measure angles. Here we have the number of points set to 36.  The screen shows a 30° angle.  Two legs of the triangle are radii of the same circle and therefore congruent.  What is the measure of the other two angles?

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Election 2016

With the presidential election coming up in November of this year, I thought it would be beneficial for teachers to have an app that helps to explain the election process and the meaning of the Electoral College.  The world’s attention is focused on the U.S. Election since the outcome will have a profound effect all countries.  It is important for U.S. citizens to understand how the process works.

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The app has historical data from 1976 to present and by tapping icons the user can manipulate the U.S. map to show which states cast their votes for the Democratic candidates and which voted Republican in previous elections.  It’s interesting to tap through the years and watch the map change dynamically.  At any point the user can tap the issues icon to display  a short list of the major issues of the day.

If desired, as the user taps through the presidential election years the symbol for the winning party can be displayed.

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One of the best features of the app is the Electoral Vote scorecard for the 2016 election.  Here the user can predict which states they think will be red Republican States and which will be blue Democratic states.  User can test different scenarios to see how their favorite candidate might win.  Will 2016 be a landslide or a narrow victory.  Only time will tell…

Get your students involved in the political process and help them better understand the Electoral College using Election 2016.

For more information about Election 2016 app for iOS please visit our website. The app is available at iTunes for $0.99