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Base Blocks

Matti Math

Base Blocks is an iPad app that elementary school teachers use to teach place value and regrouping as part of addition and subtraction. Atomic Jolt created Base Blocks by working with math professors and educators at Utah State University.

  • baseblocks home screen on an ipad
  • addition with blocks screen
  • entering a problem
  • nice work screen


Elementary school teachers often use physical manipulatives to teach basic math concepts, such as place value. The manipulatives help learners visualize and obtain a working sense of abstract concepts and operations. Professors at Utah State University created the award-winning National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (NLVM) website with over 100 Java applet, virtual manipulative, counterparts to physical manipulatives, including one called Base Blocks.

As schools have adopted tablets that don't support Java and browser support for Java has decreased, MATTI Math saw the need and opportunity to create versions that would run on a tablet. While moving from desktop to tablet-based delivery, there was a need to not just translate the applets to tablet, but also to redesign them to better support the touch interface and other tablet user interface elements.


Atomic Jolt worked closely with the creators of the NLVM version of Base Blocks to create one for iOS. We took the app into classrooms and had teachers and students work with it to give feedback. To build the app, we used PhoneGap and a leading Javascript framework for building interactive visualizations.

BOTTOM LINE: The Base Blocks app is a simple-to-use teaching tool that not only includes functionality in the original NLVM version, but also the ability for teachers to create their own problem sets. MATTI Math now markets Base Blocks in the App Store and is seeing steady sales.

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