Thursday, August 27, 2009
Quartermile Math (TOS Review)
Barnum Software's Quarter Mile Math practice program has been around a long time, by software standards. I remember reading about it in one of Mary Pride's curriculum guides, and I know that at least one of her children won prizes in online tournaments (I'm not sure who ran those particular tournaments, but you can organize your own, using multiple computers and the Deluxe version, or just taking turns on one computer with the Standard version). I never knew anyone here who actually used it, though, and it's not carried in our usual catalogues, so I just found other ways of working on math facts.
Having tried it it now for even a very short time, I can see why it's established itself as a classic in drill software. The concept is pretty simple--you choose horses or cars, choose which math topic (out of many) you want to practice, and you keep plugging in the answers as the horses or cars run across the field or down the track. After you've run a few times, you're racing against your own best times, and the program tracks your progress. (Barnum Software would like you to know that their horses don't have jockeys, and they run across a field, not down a track--in case you're worried about encouraging a junior gambler. I also noticed (from their newsletter) that there are no car crashes or other negative-but-entertaining events that might actually encourage players to make mistakes.)
Topics range from very, very simple (including alphabet games for pre-readers) up through integers and equations. My high schooler found the K-12 label on the box a bit misleading, although if you look closely at it you'll see that it actually says it covers K-9 math topics and can be used for remedial work (or just for fun) in higher grades. (She wonders if future versions could include actual high school topics?)
There are two versions of the software: Standard CD or Deluxe. The website has a comparison chart for the two. The Standard version is a one-time purchase; the Deluxe version involves a subscription. (Current American pricing is as follows: --- $2.95 per family per month, or $19.95 per family for one year (save $15.45 over one year), or $34.95 per family for two years (save $35.85 over two years).
I like that this program doesn't cost too much money, even for the Deluxe version; I like it that we didn't have any trouble installing and running it on our Windows XP computer system. The thing I was most impressed with? I like the online support that turns this from just another racing game into a meaningful part of a math program. Quarter Mile Math is very homeschool-friendly, both as a product and as a company. They have very recently added a For Homeschoolers section to their website, with articles about Getting Started, Tips & Info, and a users' forum. We only received the software a couple of weeks ago, and already I've received an email newsletter with hints about choosing what math topic to start with, determining the appropriate amount of practice time, and information about "how The Quarter Mile Math uses positive reinforcement." (These newsletters will be posted on the website as well.)
I'm planning on making this a regular part of our homeschooling this year, probably alternating it with non-computer methods.
For more Homeschool Review Crew posts on this topic, click here.
Dewey's Disclaimer: This product was received free for purposes of review. No other payment was made.
Update and Blog Readers' Discount, good till the end of September: If readers use the Referral Code 7J7M7 on their orders, they'll get $5 off any product--Standard or Deluxe. There is a place to input this code on the order forms. This Referral Code will be good until September 30.