What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mathwords is a math dictionary organized in three ways that gives kids formal definitions of math terms with little to no elaboration, sparse or indiscernable examples, and dynamic, non-kid level ads (for stuff you've been looking at online, from Pottery Barn to real estate).
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- asking questions
- part-whole relationships
- academic development
Engagement, Approach, Support
Plain, dated interface, sparse textual content, indiscernable diagrams and examples all combine for an uneventful experience.
Despite depth and accuracy, inaccessible definitions discourage learning.
Though it's well-organized and cross-referenced, kids will struggle with clarity of definitions and find themselves frustrated by the lack of help.
What's it about?
Mathwords defines about 2000 mathematic terms plus a few from physics, finance, and modeling. There are four ways to search: A to Z, full list, subject areas, and Google-powered web search. Most definitions contain multiple references to other terms plus either diagrams or examples, but only a few have textual explanations, for example, arctan. About 20 terms are accompanied by a dynamic diagram from McGraw-Hill's Geometer's Sketchpad. About 36 terms populate a real-world application list.
Is it any good?
Mathwords's accurate definitions could be useful for advanced students who just need a nudge to remember a particular aspect of a term, but kids needing a bit more hand holding who will likely be stymied. Definitions are overly concise, contain a plethora of references, and assume basic foundational understandings. For instance, the entry for three dimensional space never uses the terms height, width, or depth though it does refer to three-dimensional coordinates. Textual explanations are rare and more attention is paid to "formal" meanings than making the material clear, especially to kids who are already having a hard time. And most examples, if present, are actually diagram images pixelated beyond recognition.
About twenty terms are accompanied by a cool JavaSketchPad, QuickTime, or LiveGraphics3D-based dynamic diagram from McGraw-Hill's Geometer's Sketchpad, but even these lack sufficient labels and took nearly 5 minutes to load. Overall, accessibility is a problem for the kids who need this site the most.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what it means to truly understand math beyond just memorizing formulas and terms.
Have your kids explain math definitions in their own words to see if they've grasped concepts.