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Light Speed Math: Number Crunching Review by Courtney Larson

Cerebellum Corporation
1661 Tennessee Street, Suite 3D
San Francisco, CA 94107

Light Speed Math: Number Crunching is one of four DVDs in the basic math series released by Cerebellum Corporation (this is the company that produces the Standard Deviants DVDs). It includes a 42-minute DVD and a digital workbook on CD-ROM. The other DVDs in the basic math series are titled Multiplying and Dividing, Fractions and Decimals, and Measurements and Graphs.

Light Speed Math: Number Crunching is targeted at students in grades 3-5 and is divided into two segments. The first segment ("Whole Numbers and the Number Line") covers whole numbers, place values, comparing whole numbers, rounding whole numbers, the number line, and a brief look at decimals. In the second segment ("Addition and Subtraction"), addition, subtraction, estimating, and problem solving are presented. The content covers a wide range of skills, from explaining what a whole number is at the beginning of the DVD to multi-digit addition and subtraction near the end. The explanations are very thorough, and all of the problems being worked are shown on the screen. However, the people are talking very quickly in order to fit a lot of information into short segments, which made the explanations very difficult to follow.

The 40-page digital workbook on the included CD-ROM supplements what was taught on the DVD. There are 13 pages of handouts, which are notes for the DVD segments. There are a few activities, including chants to aid in the memorization of math facts and a math board game. There are also three short stories to further reinforce place value, carrying in addition, and rounding numbers. Three worksheets on addition and subtraction are included, as well as a quiz for both segments. While this sounds like a lot, I felt the content of the digital workbook was lacking. Included in the 40 pages of practice are instructions for the activities and answer keys, and the majority of the digital workbook is made up of handouts and stories for your student. Very few actual practice problems are available for your student to apply what was taught on the DVD.

I watched this with my two oldest sons, who are in 5th and 4th grades. We don't watch many DVDs for school, so it's a treat that is normally enjoyed. However, as I watched them watch Light Speed Math: Number Crunching, I noticed that their eyes slowly glazed over, and they looked relieved when it ended. When I asked them what they liked about the video, the only thing they could come up with was when one of the characters spent several seconds describing a video game he enjoys playing. (It's not a real game, and its popularity is used in the next segment to illustrate how to compare numbers.)

In summary, the content of Light Speed Math: Number Crunching is good, but the presentation of the material didn't engage my sons. It is really difficult to follow the explanations because the people are talking too quickly and moving through the examples too fast. When I asked my boys for their opinions of the video, they told me they thought it was "awful" and "boring". This wasn't exactly the response I was hoping for. I really wanted to like this DVD, but I would not recommend spending any money on it.

Product review by Courtney Larson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2009