Matchbox algebra

What it does
Matchbox algebra
is a substantial applet arranged into ten options. It is designed to help learners solve simple equations and what an unknown letter x really stands for. The basic idea is that the letter, x, can be usefully thought of as a matchbox containing an unknown number of matches. The aim is to deduce the number of matches that the matchbox contains, which is equivalent to solving an equation for x.

How to use it
Matchbox algebra is opened, you see a simple matchbox equation which you are invited to solve by guessing the number of matches contained in the matchbox.

To the right of the screen is a
selector (see opposite) which you use to select from ten options.
- arranged from left to right are
levels of difficulty (1, 2, 3, …);
- the vertical arrangement is as follows:
(a) 'without tools', where you can simply try to guess the answers;
(b) 'with tools', where you can manipulate the equations in picture form to work out the solution logically.
(c) 'symbolically', where you can manipulate the equations algebraically to work out the solution logically.

Click in any of the ten regions opposite to get more information about these ten options.

Screenshot of Matchbox algebra

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Watch a movie showing this applet in action:

Run the applet
Matchbox algebra.

Click in the selector above for more info about each of the options.