Survivor Algebra is a fun way of doing Algebra with Mathematics Classes.
It involves dividing a class up into teams, where they outmath their opponents for prizes by their results on “Challenges”.
The idea was invented by Karen at the “Cool Math” website, and Passy has used this with his Mathematics classes and it works really well.
Just in case anyone doesn’t know what the “Survivor” TV show was all about, here is an amusing one minute clip from YouTube.
How Survivor Algebra Works
The class is divided up into seven teams with names as follows:
Algebros, Additrons, Decimos, Fractonons, Newtonicks, Calculars, and Pentanos.
In a class of 28 students, this works out as seven groups of four.
The groups need to be set up so they are as even as possible in ability.
Students work together in their teams during Mathematics classes when we are doing Algebra.
Immediately after every two or three exercises out of their text book, every student in the class does a “Challenge” individually under test conditions.
A challenge is a two page quiz containing questions on the relevant exercises. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to complete, and is marked by the teacher and graded just like a normal test.
The scores on each of these individual “Challenges” all contribute to each student’s final grade for Algebra.
For each Team, the lowest challenge score is dropped, and the remaining team members scores averaged to create a Team Score for that challenge.
The Team Scores are progressively accumulated and recorded for each challenge on an A3 sized laminated scorecard on the wall of the classroom that looks like this:
If you would like a PDF of the standard score card to print out and enlarge on a color photocopier, then click the following link:
For each Challenge prizes can be given to the winning team, such as lollies, candy, or chocolates.
There can also be a grand prize at the end of the competition for the student in the winning team with the highest overall individual score, such as a free movie pass. ( This motivates the best student in each of the teams to encourage their fellow team members to achieve their very best on all challenges).
Cool Math Survivor Algebra Details
So far we have been talking about how we do Survivor Algebra in our classes.
We strongly recommend that teachers also read through the great information at “Cool Math” – the people who invented this game.
Introducing Some Randomness
We have found that it is fun to also introduce some Luck and Randomness into the competition.
This can be done by a variety of means such as rolling dice, picking from homemade cards, or spinning a homemade “Wheel of Misfortune”.
For our randomness, we use the following app we developed in “Scratch”.
(Note that Scratch uses Java, so this app will not run on Apple Devices)
This app selects one of our seven teams at random, and then assigns a Percentage Bonus to their Team Score which can range anywhere from 10% to 30%.
Click the Green Flag at the top right hand corner of the app to make it process through.
How the Scratch Random Picker Works
The other thing we like about using our Random Picker, is that it is an excellent example of how Algebra Variables and Mathematics is used in creating software apps.
There are two sprite objects in the app: the Cat and the Shark.
Here is the script code for the Cat.
And here is the script code for the Shark.
That’s it for Survivor Algebra, we recommend all mathematics teachers try this fun activity with their classes.
Feel free to link to this post, share it on social media sites, or use it on Learning Management Systems in Schools.
Algebra Terms Coefficients Variables and Constants.
Introduction to Powers Indices and Exponents
Algebra Substitution Using Positive Numbers.
Algebra Substitution Using Negative Numbers.
Real World Algebra Formulas
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