One of the best video games in recent times (and much further back) is the consistently excellent Mariokart available on the various Nintendo devices.
We recently looked at how we can make use of this video game to do some 'real-life' context problem solving.
To start we asked the question: how fast is Mario driving?
Mathematically, this led to an excellent discussion on what information we needed to know in order to answer the question. We talked about units of measurement, distance and (inevitably from a scientific point of view) the different variables we needed to control. After this discussion, we were able to move forward with carrying out some experimental races.
In order to keep things accurate we used the time trial race (which took out the danger of flying mushrooms or turning into a rocket); avoided the use of speed up pads and completed the race several times.
Practical maths part one was finding an average from the times we got after the first round of races. Then we needed to find out the distance of the track we were racing on. Initially, we could not find the distance so we fired off a message to Nintendo and they, brilliantly for the class, replied and directed us to a different wiki site to the one we had visited in our early research. Now, armed with our times and distances, the class was able to try and find the speed average speed that Mario was travelling at around the track.
The kids were very excited to take part in this activity and eagerly engaged with the problem. All children were able to take part in the initial maths discussion and, working in mixed ability groups, were able to come up with a solution.
Next we are going to work on coming with comparative speeds for the different vehicles in Mariokart.