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Motion Math: Cupcake! app review

cupcake titleI am not a math person. But I am a cupcake person, so math about making and selling cupcakes is far more appealing. Motion Math: Cupcake! (Motion Math, April 2015) allowed me to enact my cupcake-bakery (cupcakery?) daydreams.

As the app opens, you set up shop with a one-oven bakery facility, a cute sea-green Vespa for making deliveries, $50 for supplies, and a forty-day selling season. Scoot over to the store and pick out some ingredients; then whip up two custom cupcake flavors and set their prices based on cost of production.

cupcake flavors

Six or so customers in a row make purchases — with requests ranging in complexity from “I’d like two chocolate cupcakes” to word problems such as “I have two children and three cats, and I want my cats to each have four vanilla cupcakes” — and give you their addresses (coordinates on a numerical grid). Hop on your Vespa and deliver the goods, earning tips for speediness. After each batch of deliveries, charts break down the day’s profits (after deducting overhead expenses, of course) and most popular flavor as well as growth over time.

As your profits increase, both the math and business concepts increase in complexity. On the math side of things, you comparison shop for ingredients and buy in bulk. The grid of customer addresses gradually expands, introducing fractions and negative numbers.

cupcake customer

On the business end, you begin upgrading equipment and delivery vehicles, hiring staff, adding ingredients, purchasing advertising, and refining pricing. Customer interactions begin to include complaints, comments (“I’d pay anything for those black forest cupcakes”), and indecision to guide your choices. Thought balloons of the customers you spot around town give you an idea of what flavors will be popular next. Even the complexity of the driving part increases with more obstacles on the road — there’s no chance to get bored with this app, just a steady addition of new concepts introduced and new options to select.

The user avatars and customers are pleasantly diverse. Your cupcake creativity is constrained only by your imagination and your ingredient budget. Upbeat surf-guitar music plays in the background of your deliveries, and silly sound effects add to the fun of this educational and entertaining math app.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 7.0 or later); $4.99. Recommended for intermediate users and up.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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