Pi, Phi, Surds – All these terms have one thing in common. These are irrational numbers. Like many number learners, I also wished that the world was comprised only of definite integers and decimals. It could have saved doing so many calculations. Obviously, that is not possible. Moving further from basics like counting and number sense, high school math differentiates all numbers into rational and irrational numbers. The onus lies on the teacher how to make their learning enjoyable. The fact that only practice can lead to perfection, it is important to have lots of practice resources in hand besides books and worksheets.
Computers and their role in teaching have become bigger over the years. There is an online version of every possible study material you can think of. A more advanced solution is available in the form of online games. Let’s understand why learning rational and irrational numbers are important before moving to the list of games that I found exceptionally useful.
Importance of rational and irrational numbers
Rational numbers tell us definite values and irrational values bridge the gap between the two definite values, simply put. Irrational numbers are the fillers that plug the gaps left in counting rational numbers. The real-life application of irrational numbers lies in finding circumference or area of circle and in approximations and learning advanced math concepts like functions, derivatives, logarithm, etc.
Hence, learn these numbers to perfection. To help you take those baby steps with confidence, I’ve curated a few easy online games that can enable a smooth transition to complex maths.
Fun rational and irrational number games
1. Identify rational and irrational numbers
How do you identify a rational number? Well, it requires doing a quick calculation. A rational number has a definite ending when written in a decimal form. Also, when presented in p/q form, the number of q is not equal to zero. This game offers you an engaging way to tell a rational number apart from the irrational one. Learners can move to higher levels where a little more complex problems await them.
It is advisable to practice solving problems to get fractional values, roots, and decimal values mentally before taking up this online game. The quicker you calculate, the more problems will you be able to solve in a limited time. This game offers amply challenging problems to a beginner and can help advanced learners revisit basics to be ready for higher learning levels. Even as a parent, I enjoy this game and play it often to check my calculation fluency!
2. Sort Rational or irrational number
Making tables to sort rational and irrational numbers from a given set is a common activity we do in notebooks and worksheets. Let’s give it an animated touch by playing an online game based on it. In this game, the kids have to drag and drop rational and irrational numbers into the respective buckets. Birds carrying these numbers fly across the screen demanding the learners to be attentive enough to calculate and drag the number to the correct bucket. Hence, the game requires applying multiple intelligences simultaneously.
While encouraging students to try playing this game, you may tell a short story of how birds will benefit from dropping the numbers in the relevant bucket. That provides a problem for students to solve by utilizing their identification based on calculation skills. It adds to the fun as well as the meaning and inculcates logical reasoning and problem-solving skills in students.
3. Outer space game – Legend of Learning
If you think that students will love doing the same quiz, again and again, you are mistaken! The kids look for variety and newness. This game satisfies that requirement considerably. The backdrop is a space where the aliens throw challenges in the form of rational and irrational numbers. It is a tad trickier and different from the usual classification activity because the decimals with infinite and finite ends are the cues. Students will press I or R given above depending upon the cue that appears. Their act will save their friend from alien attack.
Teaching math by video games has got the nod of the researchers because of the way these motivate kids to learn. Hence, this engaging backdrop and story-based graphics create a compelling learning environment for students just introduced to rational and irrational numbers.
4. Compare rational numbers – Jeopardy game
Jeopardy is a popular game that features a matrix. This matrix has columns that have dollar values. It is the wagering amount that players earn if they choose any cell. The responses are hidden behind the dollar values on the matrix and contestants frame questions. This online Jeopardy game on rational and irrational numbers brings a quiz-like twist. The matrix here comprises not the dollars but the marks they will score.
Questions revolve around concepts related to rational and irrational numbers. You learn to classify, compare as well as calculate these as per the challenge given. Hence, you have to practice calculations in advance as the time is less to think and apply. It can be played in a group as a competition and the winner will be the one that solves more high-scoring questions than opponents.
5. Is this number irrational?
What makes any number rational or irrational? Well, there are certain rules to learn to establish this classification in mind. The game requires you to memorize the rules pertaining to fractions and decimals that contribute to the irrationality of numbers. It is an ample brain-teaser and drives the mind to think, calculate, and analyze faster. Ten questions served back to back compel learners to be agile in their calculation and concept retrieval. You can have the requisite amount of practice by solving questions back to back.
The game offers multiple levels where complexity and the number of challenges increase. Play it as many times as desired; I found it one of the best resources to try because of its simplicity and to-the-point approach.
6. Eat all irrational numbers
Now this is what the real challenge looks like! The students have to figure out rational or irrational numbers from the numbers, expressions as well as equations. It may be difficult for the beginner to crack the game at the start. So, have ample practice of calculations first. Also, you need to be thorough with the rules. Despite these challenges, the engagement quotient of this game is phenomenal. Middle school students love doing challenging quizzes and boast their skills. This game offers ample opportunity to do so.
The storyline is made gripping and as per the taste of the growing kids. That is why this game mixes fun with learning and drives kids’ interest in solving problems based on rational and irrational numbers effectively. You can make it more interesting by asking kids to play in groups and keep count of irrational numbers that dinosaurs could eat.
7. Find Pi Value
Pi intrigues every student easily and compels them to explore it deeply. It is a classic irrational number example that finds utility in learning trigonometry, geometry, derivatives, etc. This game employs the characteristic of Pi that says that its decimal value does not have a finite end. It requires a lot of perseverance and practice to get the digits after decimal up to 150 places, which is why this quiz attracts students who love doing challenging things.
This game is certainly the right fit for improving the calculation abilities of middle school students. It helps to work on Pi closely and prepares you for subjects like Astrophysics. Even NASA claims that they have used up to 15 decimal places in their calculations, which proves the relevance of calculating Pi value as precisely as possible.
Numbers change their names and properties with every level of study. Rational and irrational numbers are the most realistic presentations of numbers as these help us take attention to infinitesimally small values that may lie between two definite quantities. Prepare for the higher math problems by achieving better comfort with irrational numbers first through these games, the road ahead becomes rather easy with such an approach!