Pokemath? by @pete_schumacher

I bet you have an archetypal image of Pokemon. I bet it was just like mine. Some funny look’n, manga cartoons wandering around Japan battling each other. I always thought it was a way to sucker little kids in to watch violent cartoons by cloaking the violence with a teddy bear, cherubim looking animals. Some people would look at it as a money-grabbing waste of time for kids who will simply pass through the “fad”. It is now a twenty-year fad that isn’t going to fade away that quickly. You may be that little bit younger than me and collected the cards and been one of those kids who didn’t so much battle with the cards but just liked to use their Pokemon cards as a status symbol and went around comparing how big your deck was compared to others. I have turned the corner.

This is a re-blog post originally posted by Pete Schumacher and published with kind permission.

The original post can be found here.

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I grew up playing Canasta, 500 and a load of other card games with my parents and extended family. It was a bonding time that everyone enjoyed; nonetheless, it was a battle. Competitive. Our family didn’t just settle for low-level thinking games; you had to master the strategy of the game, take calculated risks and in many of the games; trust your partner. We used to play a game of Racing solitaire; two people, battling it out to see who could remove their cards from the deck the fastest in a game based on the traditional Solitaire.

My son’s birthday coincided with the last school holidays. He turned six. He was lucky enough to get Pokemon cards; a trainer kit. The trainer kit came with step-by-step instructions explaining how to play the actual Pokemon card game. I must now unashamedly admit that I, too, am not a Pokemon follower. I want a big deck just like all the other blokes but for different reasons. You see, I am a teacher and teachers don’t just look at games as something to do for fun, we look at the educational benefits of these games. Pokemon is full of mathematical concepts and important ones. This is a true game of strategy and if the face of the cards were different and the way the information was presented, I truly believe that I could have introduced the game to my family of card sharks and they would have enjoyed it. The gameplay is interesting.

During a single Pokemon battle, children need to:

Add in tens when the opposition does an attack on them. They may attack with a force of “60” energy points. This means that the player that has been attacked needs to add 60 (in denominations of 10, 50 and 100) coins to their Pokemon. The player could possibly have 20 point resistance to that attack as detailed on the card, which may mean that it is only 40 attack points they need to add to their Pokemon; therefore having to calculate 60 minus 20. Each Pokemon has a certain number of attack points they can sustain before they are beaten in the battle. If they have 70 health points and they are in a battle and have sustained 50 points, they may choose to use a potion card, which will then give them back 30 health. This could be the difference between winning and losing a battle.

Clear as mud? What I have just explained is one sequence, one turn in a game. I know that I sounded like a deranged Pokemon fan/teacher but when you start unravelling you will find that there are multi-step algorithms for children to solve, understanding chance and data concepts, place-value concepts, addition, subtraction and multiplication; particularly in the 10’s. The quick thinking problem solving and strategy is the most impressive part of the game.

There is one other thing that I must also add is that there are a number of different rules that you can neglect to teach your child until they have mastered some of the other math concepts. The fact that they have Pokemon Tournaments at a world level show how much differentiation that it can be played with.

Heaps of parent’s ask; how can I help my child with math? My new answer is “Pokemon”! By the way, it also teaches them about money because once you have bought the trainer pack the kids want more Pokemon to build up their deck. Pokemon cards aren’t cheap!

I have to admit though, the 2 ½ hours my son and I spent working out the rules and playing a couple of battles on an afternoon is priceless.

Now, Pokemon and reading strategies …


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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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