Students use algebraic thinking to design computer games

Designing online computer games is not easy! It requires the use of algebraic thinking. Algebraic thinking is about generalising arithmetic operations and operating on unknown quantities.  It involves recognising and analysing patterns and developing generalisations about these patterns.

Research shows that students can more easily understand algebra when they have a good knowledge of the general properties of numbers, the relationships among numbers, and the effect that basic operations have on numbers rather than just having a focus on finding an answer.  Many of these concepts are best taught at a young age because misconceptions which develop early on can inhibit a student’s ability to work with symbols and generalisations at a later time.

The language of arithmetic focuses on answers while the language of algebra focuses on relationships.1

Last term, 3/4E learnt how to use algebraic thinking skills  to design Scratch games for their Kindergarten friends. Today, Nick L showed us his latest game: a 2-player Pong game. Watch the video where Mrs Birleson plays to win!

Nick’s Beebot Scratch Game.

 1 MacGregor, M & Stacey, K. (1999) “A flying start to algebra. Teaching Children Mathematics, 6/2, 78-86.  Retrieved 17 May 2005 from

2 Assessment Resource Banks: English, Mathematics and Science