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Board Games: A New Way For Math

By: Sammy Wang

A research team at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, Chile, found that playing board games can help develop children's mathematical skills.

The researchers conducted 19 experiments throughout 2000-2023; they studied the relationship between math and board games. Children between the ages of 3-9 played board games under the watchful eye of trained adults or teachers.

The kids were to attend 20-minute sessions twice weekly for around six weeks. They spent that time playing different board games, sometimes being split into other groups. One group could be playing number-based games while playing board games that didn’t require any math skills.

On the other hand, all the children would play number-based games. They were given different board games, such as Monopoly and Dominoes.

Researchers would record each child’s math skill by giving them tests before and after each study, and after analyzing the results, they concluded that 32 percent of the kids who played board games showed more math improvement than those who didn’t.

Dr. Frank McGeorge, a Local 4's Good Health Medical Expert was on the Local 4’s News to report the experiment's results. Local 4 is San Francisco Bay Area's local news & weather station.

“Studies included games like Dominoes, Monopoly, Shoot and Ladders, and the Great Race,” McGeorge said. “Experts say board games help connect the concept of numbers to time, distance, and how all of those numbers relate to each other.”

In addition to the board games listed above, kids can still try many other games to practice their math.

There is a game called Laser Khet 2.0, which is a chess spin-off, but with lasers. Some chess pieces are mirrors that reflect light off, while others are blocks like the pharaoh (the king). The objective is the same, getting the opponent's king while keeping your pharaoh safe. Each player has a piece that shoots out a laser which the opposing player has to block off using either mirror pierces or block pieces. This game can help players learn about rotation, angles, reflection, refraction, and multi-step problem-solving.

Card games can also help with multiple games like Match to Make 11, Race to 100, Blackjack, and Go Fish all in one pack!

The researchers hope that studies inspire others to play or make more board games in the future. They recommend families to use board games as a fun way to spend time with each other. Many parents agree with that.


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