We bet you’ve spent hours guiding Pac Man around the screen on your computer or at your local arcade, but have you ever considered using Pac Man to help teach math? The classic arcade game actually lends itself well to concepts related to graphing, geometry, coding, strategic thinking, and even basic math skills.
Play Math Man
One of the easiest ways to use Pac Man to teach math is to have students play a few levels of Math Pac Man. This version of the popular game contains the same style of game board and the iconic ghosts. However, in this version, each ghost is assigned a number. Players are shown an equation and must get Pac Man to eat the ghost that contains the solution to the equation. If Pac Man eats the wrong ghost, students can say goodbye to one of their lives.
Make a Pac Man Maze
World’s Biggest Pac Man offers students the unique opportunity to create their own mazes. As students add walls, empty spaces, and power pellets, they must think about the concepts of geometry. They must also use strategic thinking to understand what elements will make the maze difficult while still allowing players to experience victory at the end. Prefer to work offline? Students can sketch out their own Pac Man mazes on graph paper, just like the creator of Pac Man did. You can challenge students to build words or images into the maze as well, such as when Google created a version of Pac Man around its name.
Create Pac Man Inequalities
If you look at the shape of a Pac Man character, you can see how it fits nicely into a lesson about inequalities. Have students use the shape of a Pac Man character to represent the greater than and less than signs in an inequality. Students can draw the character or you can cut out Pac Man shapes from construction paper and have students place it in the equation. For more advanced students, try incorporating the inequalities into a graph.
Study How Pac Man Moves
If you look at a Pac Man board, it is full of straight lines and right angles. Have students show the different ways Pac Man can moved based on the angles. For example, what does Pac Man looked like turned 90 degrees? 180 degrees? For more advanced students, you can talk about rotations, translations, and reflections. To bring in more geometry, cut out different Pac Man shapes and have students try to determine what the circumference of Pac Man would be if his mouth was closed or find the radius of the circular sector.
Of course, you can always just let students play a simple game of Pac Man too. As they play the game, they’ll develop strategic thinking skills and look for ways to beat each level as quickly as possible.
Do you use Pac Man as a teaching tool? If so, we’d love to hear how you use it. Share your ideas on Facebook or in the comments.