Prime Smash: First Look and Review

Welcome to the first look at neat little app called Prime Smash! The app is available for iPad, requires iOS 3.2 or higher, and is completely free! The app is published by Panasonic Corp. and is an official application of RiSuPia — a hands-on museum to display the beauty of mathematics is everyday life.

The general gameplay may remind you very vaguely of Fruit Ninja, the popular app from Halfbrick Studios. Bubbles with integers (greater than 1) are appear from the bottom of the screen. If the number is prime (see below), the player must tap the bubble to obtain it. Doing so yields p points, where p is the prime number your collected. On the other hand, if the number is not prime (see below), the player must “smash” the bubble by swiping through the bubble. Doing so will yield n points, where n is the composite number smashed. The bubble will then be broken up into two bubbles whose product is n. Proceed as above: If the number is prime, collect it; otherwise, smash it.

So, this begs the question, what is a prime number? An integer p>2 is prime if it is only divisible by 1 and itself. The first seven prime numbers are 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, and 17. If an integer n>2 is not prime, it is called composite and can be written as a product of prime numbers in a unique way. For example, 4=2*2, 6=2*3, 12=2*2*3, etc.

The app also includes many fun facts about different types of prime numbers and tricks for recognizing composite numbers. These special types of prime numbers yield bonus points as well:

  • Twin Primes: Prime numbers which differ by exactly 2 (such as 3/5, 5/7, and 11/13). If you collect consecutive bubbles which are twins, the second bubble will receive bonus points equal to its twin.
  • Palindromic Primes: A prime which reads the same forward as backwards (such as 11, 101, and 131). Collecting such a prime receives double points.
  • EMIRP Primes: A prime which, when read backwards, is a different prime (such as 13/31, 17/71, and 37/73; note that the definition excludes palindromic primes). Collecting such a prime receives triple points.

While I realize this app will not apply to a wide number of people, I think it is one of the most enjoyable, mathematically-educational apps I have come across. Easy gameplay involves numbers <30; medium uses numbers <200; and hard goes quite large, with numbers nearing 1000. I think this could be a great app for children learning about multiplication, division, and factorization. I think it could also be fun for older students and even adults who want to expand their knowledge of mathematical concepts. While it is not likely to take off, I will still heavily support this app!

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