What do we do at the Battle Academies?
This September we launched our new ‘Battle Academies’. These clubs use games to develop confidence in maths – they’re run by qualified teachers and tutors.
So far we find they appeal to two types of people: children who love maths and want a challenge; and parents of children who aren’t so keen on maths, and want to offer more practise without is feeling like maths.
We have three age groups. 2 for 6-9 year olds, and 9-13 year olds based on Pokemon. Then an older group that uses Magic: The Gathering for 11-14 year olds. Each group happens in central Hartlepool on Saturdays.
But what do we actually do in these clubs? Using last week’s sessions, here’s a brief overview to see if you think you’d enjoy it:
When you enter
If you haven’t been before, you’re given a label to decorate and a box with your deck in for Pokemon or Magic: The Gathering. At the end of the term, you get to keep this deck and take it home.
The first thing you do is play Pokemon or Magic: The Gathering (depending on which age group you’re in).
If you haven’t played before, that’s great – most of our members start like this! We teach you how to play in your first session. A leader teaches you, and we match you up with one of the members who will act as your ‘buddy’ and help you to play.
Everyone that knows how to play, will play 2 games with 2 different people. We keep track of wins for a term-long league.
Our clubs are run by trained educators because we want to use playing games to develop maths. It’s easy to play games like Pokemon on a ‘gut feeling’, without doing many calculations – however having someone ask questions during the game really helps to bring out the potential for maths practise (e.g. how much life to do you have left? How many turns until your Pokemon is knocked out?).
This take around the first 40-50 minutes of the session.
We provide a deck that’s great for new people to learn with.
But over time, you might want to improve your deck – using cards that are a little more complex, but are more competitive. We have trade folders, and every week you get to swap 2-4 cards. Our folders are full of cards from the Evolving Skies set.
We offer a piece of fruit, and biscuit, and a drink as a snack.
Then we do some direct maths challenges. We keep these as interactive as possible, and feel like problem solving as a team.
Often these focus on strategies for the games – it gives the maths tuition a sense of purpose. This week, with the younger groups, we looked at two pokemon cards and asked ‘which one will get knocked out first’. To begin with, most of our members took a guess. Then we talked about how we could calculate this, and whether it made a difference which Pokemon attacked first. We worked these calculations out together, and then individually members did the same with their own cards. Finally, we considered how the ‘losing’ Pokemon could get the advantage, and members provided a list of ways to help the Pokemon last an extra turn – sometimes, keeping a Pokemon in the game for one more turn is enough to win the game
The older group solved some probability problems based on the game Machi Koro. They calculated the probability of a card triggering on their turn and when it was best to swap from rolling one die to two dice, based on the probability of any card triggering and whether it’s worth the risk to try and get a big payout from a card with a lower probability of triggering.
Playing another game
Then we choose another game to play. Again, these will always have a maths theme. This week, the younger Pokemon groups played Kingdomino for the first time (we play a game for two weeks, then swap to something else). This game involves scoring points by multiplying the number of crowns you have gathered with the number of squares of a particular type of landscape you have. To help make the maths of the game more explicit we provide score sheets at the end, with the equations that children complete to find their score.
The first session is always free, with no obligation. After your child(ren) has attended the first session we email payment instructions. If you would like to continue, you just need to fill those out. Otherwise, we hope they enjoyed their first time with us and might be interested again in the future.
If you would like to join us for a free first session, you can register here.