Friday, June 24, 2011

Brainetics Update: Day 1 Magic Squares and Lightning Calendars

Hey Guys,

So I popped in DVD 1 of the Brainetics program, and must say that it's not starting out so great.  Within the first five minutes, they offer an erroneous factoid that humans only use a small percentage of their brain.  We've known for years that this isn't true.  However, it's actually not all bad.  Although Brainetics claims that their product is "Ages 9-99!", it's clearly aimed toward K-8 kiddos.  The videos are reminiscent of Nickelodeon's Truth or Dare from the early 1990's.  The music, the animated hosts, the competition element...all designed for keeping a kid engaged (and adults with short attention spans).

The first thing up is learning magic number squares.  At first I thought this was silly, but I have to admit that it makes a great deal of  sense to start out with this kind of game.  Math phobia is real, but for some reason, sudoku type games don't invoke that fear in many people.  Probably because it's more about pattern-recognition than numbers, and people are naturally good at picking up patterns, even when we're not consciously looking for them.  

My younger brother Brandon, who has no love for math, did enjoy the number squares.  However, he quickly realized that they only work under certain conditions--see what I mean about people recognizing patterns?  In truth he's right, the magic number squares taught in this product aren't all that robust.  Maybe that will change later on.  But if it doesn't, I think it would be a great exercise to extrapolate on how magic squares could work under different conditions. 

Up next was mental calendaring--learning how to calculate any day of the year. One of the mind sports that I'd like to train for is the Mental Calculation World Cup, which has mental calendaring as one of the competitive events.   The host in the DVD, Mike Byster, went through this part of Brainetics rather quickly. Strange, considering how multi-stepped the algorithm is he offers.  It's like even he knew there's no way you were going to get this skill down in one sitting.  The DVD recommends you give this "some practice." I'd have to agree.

Well, that is the review for today.  I have to work tomorrow, so I can't guarantee that I'll be able to post tomorrow, although I will try.    

It's way too early to say anything conclusive, but as of right now, I'd have to give this product a tentative C average. 



1 comment:

  1. I have to admit that Brainetics wasn't what I was expecting. And it was a little too heavily produced for my tastes, making me suspect that I was paying for a lot of production value and not substance. However, I do have to say that we only did the first section together, and my 10 year old was doing 5x5 magic squares on her own afterwards. Given her phobia and academic weakness (to a subclinical DD point) I was thrilled.