# Review of Top Math Sites

By Murray Bourne, 19 Jun 2008

HomeSchool.com recently released their Homeschool.com's Top 100 Educational Web Sites of 2008. There were **7 math sites** included in the Top 100.

What makes a Top Math Web Site? To find out, I've had a closer look at the 7 sites that were selected by Homeschool.com.

The following comparison of the sites (in the table, below) considers several factors:

- What is the
**Content?**This is vital for any visitor, of course. - What
**Grade levels**is the site aimed at? - Is there
**real-world context for the math**or is it math for math's sake? **Who**is behind the site? In some cases no name or address can be found.- What does the site
**sell**? - What are the
**top keywords**for the site's home page? (This helps search engines to determine what the site is about. Determined using SEO Tools - Keyword Density, mostly using 3-word phrases) - Does the site have
**valid HTML**(if it doesn't, there is a good chance that the site will not display properly on different browsers, different operating systems, and on mobile devices. Determined using W3C's HTML Validator) - Does the site have
**valid CSS**(same reasons as above - if the CSS is bad, the site can look terrible, or not work at all. Determined using W3Cs CSS Validator) - How
**popular**is the site? This one is tricky, since there are different ways to measure it. I have included Google's PageRank score (high is good - it means Google knows that many other sites link to the site; maximum is 10), Alexa Rank (lowest is best - this is supposed to be the site's popularity rank, but is skewed due to its non-representative sample), Compete Rank (same concept as Alexa; lowest is best)

The original list of math sites on Homeschool.com did not appear to be in any particular order. I have **ranked the sites**, based on what I believe to be important in a math Website, which is as follows:

**Quality of content**and**context for the math**- Value to
**students**(which I regard as having greater importance than a site's value to teachers, or parents in the case of homeschooling, since we are trying to develop in our students some self-learning skills and life-long learning skills) **Web standards**(how well is the site designed? Is it future-proof?)

Of course, I have kept in mind the **needs of home-schoolers** in my comparison.

At the bottom of the table, I have included a similar analysis of my own site, Interactive Mathematics, for comparison. (It was not included in Homeschool.com's list)

I hope you find the following information useful.

[Information as at June 2008.]

## 1. Ask Dr. Math

Content | Elementary School Middle School High School College & Beyond |
---|---|

Grade Level | K to 15+ |

Real-world Context | Possibly, depends on the student's question |

Who | Originally Swarthmore College, now 300 volunteer 'Doctors' from all over the world |

Sells | Dr Math books
Tutor.com |

Top 5 Keywords | the math forum ask dr math algebra dr math dr math explains explains algebra dr |

Valid HTML | No (14 errors) |

Valid CSS | Yes |

Page Rank | 8 |

Alexa | 11000 |

Compete | 3000 |

Comments | Searchable database of questions with solutions. Students are directed to Tutor.com if they "can't wait" for an answer. |

## 2. Purple Math

Content | Good explanations on a wide range of topics: Preliminary Topics Beginning Algebra Intermediate Algebra Advanced Algebra Solving Word Problems |
---|---|

Grade Level | 5 to 12 |

Real-world Context | Some - in the word problems |

Who | Elizabeth Stapel |

Sells | CD of whole site for sale at nominal $10. |

Top 5 Keywords | lessons are written student in mind pointing out common help you find written with the |

Valid HTML | No (11 errors) |

Valid CSS | Yes |

Page Rank | 6 |

Alexa | 26000 |

Compete | 8000 |

Comments | Very slowpage load time for several pages on the site.
I tried again at different times of the day over a few days and page loads over 1 minute were common. |

## 3. Math Goodies

Content | Easy to understand lessons on: Perimeter & Area of Polygons Circumference & Area of Circles Number Theory Decimals More On Decimals Understanding Percent Percent Applications Integers Probability Topics in Pre-Algebra Data and Graphs Introduction to Statistics Symbolic Logic Includes worksheets and puzzles |
---|---|

Grade Level | 4 to 8 |

Real-world Context | Limited (eg Statistics section) |

Who | Gisele Glosser |

Sells | CD of whole site - around US$50. |

Top 5 Keywords | help since 1998 our free newsletter goodies interactive math interactive math help math goodies interactive |

Valid HTML | No (15 errors) |

Valid CSS | Yes |

Page Rank | 6 |

Alexa | 47000 |

Compete | 11000 |

Comments | Has a popular newsletter.
Lessons are in HTML format and open in any browser. Most of the content is on the CD, not on the site. |

## 4. Math Playground

Content | "Play with numbers and give your brain a workout". Fun atmosphere. Topics: Math games Word problems Logic puzzles Math videos |
---|---|

Grade Level | K-8 |

Real-world Context | No |

Who | "...teachers who are passionionate about math and technology" No names given, no address given |

Sells | Advertising |

Top 5 Keywords | welcome to math middle school students elementary and middle games math site for elementary math games math word problems |

Valid HTML | No (22 errors) |

Valid CSS | Yes |

Page Rank | 6 |

Alexa | 116000 |

Compete | 18000 |

Comments | Some good activities - but where do you input your function in the function example? Claims to be a "safe site" |

## 5. The Math Worksheet Site

Content | Worksheets on: Addition Subtraction Multiplication Division Mixed Problems Fractions Measurement Graphing Telling Time One Hundred Chart |
---|---|

Grade Level | K to 6 |

Real-world Context | No |

Who | Scott Bryce |

Sells | Subscriptions for a greater variety of worksheets than the free version |

Top 5 Keywords | math worksheet site the math worksheet single digit horizontal 5 minute drill digit horizontal single |

Valid HTML | Yes |

Valid CSS | No (1 error, 19 warnings) |

Page Rank | 6 |

Alexa | 240000 |

Compete | 47000 |

Comments | User is able to create printable worksheets (PDF) after choosing certain parameters.
Can this promote drill and kill? |

## 6. Web Math

Content | Has an online algebra solver. No content as such. Solver is optimised for: General Math K-8 Math Algebra Plots & Geometry Trig. & Calculus |
---|---|

Grade Level | K to 12 |

Real-world Context | No |

Who | None given No address given |

Sells | Advertising |

Top 5 Keywords | help you solve your math problem lines the equation data analysis finding numbers number line convert to a |

Valid HTML | No (4 errors) |

Valid CSS | No (3 errors, 23 warnings) |

Page Rank | 6 |

Alexa | 50000 |

Compete | 15000 |

Comments | Solver can deliver unsatisfactory results. For example, it will spend several lines to multiply 5 by a.
Also, how well do these solvers help students to learn? |

## 7. Mega- Mathematics

(It seems this has disappeared.)

Content | Difficult to determine from the home page. The topics in the graphic are: The Most Colorful Math of All Welcome to the Hotel Infinity Games on Graphs A Usual Day at Unusual School Untangling the Mathematics of Knots Algorithms and Ice Cream for All Machines the Eat Your Words |
---|---|

Grade Level | Appears to be for teachers - Contains lesson plans (that are devoid of objectives, context, year level, etc) |

Real-world Context | Difficult to determine - doesn't appear to have |

Who | "A project of the Computer Research and Applications Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory;
classroom teachers, mathematicians, students in education and computer science, elementary school and high school students, school administrators, computer scientists, parents..." |

Sells | Nil - government site |

Top 5 Keywords | this is mega is mega mathematics |

Valid HTML | No (4 errors) |

Valid CSS | Yes |

Page Rank | 6 |

Alexa | 26000 |

Compete | 14000 |

Comments | Home page has unattractive image map for navigation. Site appears stuck in a 1995 time-warp. Takes a lot of digging to find anything - navigation is poor. Purpose and audience is unclear. |

## Interactive Mathematics

Content | Algebra Money Trigonometry Graphs Complex Probability Differentiation Integration Higher Calculus |
---|---|

Grade Level | 8 to early college |

Real-world Context | Yes |

Who | Murray Bourne |

Sells | Advertising |

Top 5 Keywords | play with it math while you interactive mathematics math interactive mathematics learn mathematics learn math |

Valid HTML | Yes |

Valid CSS | Yes |

Page Rank | 5 |

Alexa | 91000 |

Compete | 83000 |

Comments | Interactive games and exploratory activities to enhance math lessons. Has a popular blog and a newsletter. |

See the 5 Comments below.

20 Jun 2008 at 2:23 am [Comment permalink]

Hi,

Good post. I just want to address a few things you mentioned in your analysis of Math Playground.

Math Playground does offer activities in a real world context. There is a role playing game called Math in the Mall that asks students to visit a health club, a toy store, a restaurant, and a bank. They must solve problems related to tax, tipping, interest, and do some comparison shopping. Percent Shopping and Making Change also have real world math connections.

In the function activity, you can enter the function after the five input/output pairs are presented. It will appear onscreen at the end.

I am curious about the html errors. Do you know what kind of errors they are? I use Dreamweaver and have never seen an error report. I'd like to correct the errors if I can.

The safe site award was given by wiredkids.org based on their criteria. There are no hidden downloads or agendas on the site and the content is wholesome and aimed at children in grades 3 to 7. There is advertising but I am very careful about the type of ads that appear on the site and ban advertisers with questionable content.

I'm sure your criteria for judging a math site differs from that of the award giver. All I truly care about is the feedback I get from the teachers, parents, and students who use the site. If it's making math fun and understandable, then I feel the site is serving its purpose.

Thanks for the critique.

20 Jun 2008 at 8:57 am [Comment permalink]

Hi, "Math Playground" (we still don’t know your name(s)...)

Thanks for your response. Sorry that I missed your "Math at the Mall", which is a good idea. I checked it out just now and had some trouble. I tried the "percentages" activity and when I visited each of the "toys", "bank", "gym" and "cafe" I was unable to get a question to answer. I expected a question to appear when I got there. I clicked around trying to get a question, but nothing came. I used both the male and female characters. Is there a bug, maybe, or did I miss something?

I used the word "claim" when talking about the "safe site" because some of these certificates are just based on self-nomination.

You can check HTML errors using W3C’s checker. Sometimes there are huge differences in the way Internet Explorer (especially version 6) and standards compliant browsers (like Firefox) cope with a page that has errors.

I’m sure your criteria for judging a math site differs from that of the award giver.Actually, Homeschool.com had no criteria given for their choices of awards, other than...

These websites contain some of the best educational content on the Internet today. Best of all, almost all of these sites are free or have free sections.Of course, they are looking at it from the perspective of usefulness for home schooling. I don’t pretend to have such experience, but I do get considerable traffic from the home schooling sites.

All I truly care about is the feedback I get from the teachers, parents, and students who use the site. If it’s making math fun and understandable, then I feel the site is serving its purpose.Quite right, too! I said in my comparison that your site has a "Fun atmosphere".

Thanks again for your response.

20 Jun 2008 at 11:57 am [Comment permalink]

Hello again,

Math at the Mall does not have any bugs as far as I know. You have to actually walk your character past the signs to the end of the "road". At that point, the character will appear in one of the new rooms. Please let me know if you are still unable to proceed through the game.

I apologize for being discreet about my identity. Unfortunately, someone's idea of fun was stalking me online with very personal email messages. Since then I have been careful about revealing too much information. All that really matters is that I am a high school math teacher with 12 years of classroom experience who likes to write code in her spare time. My friends call me Colleen 🙂

21 Jun 2008 at 4:06 pm [Comment permalink]

Hi Colleen and thanks for your clarifications.

Sorry to hear about the stalker - there are some total idiots in cyberspace.

I managed to find the activities in your game - thanks for that.

3 Jan 2013 at 2:03 am [Comment permalink]

Not sure how HomeSchool gets around to reviewing all the math web sites. I would love to throw mine into the mix and start to get some feedback. If anyone know how to get their ear, please let me know.