Exponents & PowerPlay

PowerPlay IconAn exponent is a number placed to the upper right of a base number. It shows the number of times the base number is multiplied by itself. Sometimes, instead of placing the exponent to the upper right, a ^ is used to indicate the exponent. Here are some examples:

  • 3^2 = 3 x 3 = 9
  • 5^4 = 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 = 625
  • 8^6 = 8 x 8 x 8 x 8 x 8 x 8 = 262,144
Scientific calculators have an x^y button for calculating exponents. Also, a fun Google trick is to enter "8^6" in the search box. Google will do the calculations for you and display "8^6 = 262 144.". In fact, you can use Google to calculate all sorts of things.

Google Results

To practice exponents, you may want to have students complete this quiz for Quizzler (Palm or Windows Mobile). It quizzes students over exponents and bases up to 10 in multiple choice format. Here's the text of the quiz in case you'd like to make changes.

Now I'd like to tell you about new handheld software for exponents! PowerPlay is a Palm game that gets students working with bases and exponents. Students guess missing bases or exponents in equations. They score fewer points the closer their guesses are to the actual numbers that complete each equation. After 10 rounds, students are given a final score. Lower scores are better. The top five scores are recorded on the Leader Board for each level of play. Students can choose to fill in bases or exponents. There are Easy and Hard levels for the two forms of game play, making a total of four different games. Unlike the Quizzler quiz, PowerPlay is more than drill and skill. PowerPlay is a game that gives students some number sense. As they play, learners get a sense about the surprisingly fast growth numbers show when an exponent is applied.

Easy games use bases between 2 and 8, and 10.
Easy games use exponents between 1 and 6.
Hard games use bases between 4 and 12.
Hard games uses exponents between 5 and 12.

PowerPlay is yet another collaboration with Brian Schau. It has similarities with Simplify and Angles and is freeware. PowerPlay is probably most appropriate for students in grades 4 or 5 and above. Thanks Brian!

PowerPlay Screenshots