Customer Reviews: Solving For X: Algebra I, Volume 1 [Interactive DVD]
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3.2 out of 5 stars10
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on August 19, 2010
The DVD "Solving For X: Algebra 1, Volume 1", starring actor Bill Nye, gives 16 minutes of instruction in a few topics from elementary algebra. There are two lessons in solving linear equations, a lesson in manipulating the units of measure in the equation: distance = (rate)(time), and a lesson on shape of the graph of a "linear function". (This lesson is mis-titled "Linear Equations".)

The pace of the lessons is too fast for them to be useful as introductions to the mathematical topics. However, they might be useful to a child who was reviewing the topics or was willing to play the videos over and over again.

I rate this DVD as three stars out of five to indicate that it is an average review of a few topics in algebra. As a review, the lessons on solving linear equations are excellent, the lesson on manipulating units of measure is average and the lesson on "linear functions" is below average.

I'm not penalizing the DVD for keeping up the long standing tradition of non-fiction publishing that a DVD ought to have a misleading title. However, it's certainly silly to refer to 16 minutes of instruction as "Volume 1"!


(I give the approximate duration of each episode, not counting the musical introduction and conclusion.)

Variables ( 3 min)
This is a skit parodying the situation in old black-and-white movies where a female client visits the office of a private detective. Bill Nye plays an "Algebra Investigator". The client wears a costume that makes her appear to be the letter "Y". She describes meeting a stranger "X" and their conversation establishes the equation 7 = 2x + 1, which Bill solves on a chalk board. He shows the steps of the solution, emphasizing that "what we do to one side of the equation, we do to the other side".

Balancing Equations ( 3 min)
Bill is in a cupcake shop that has prepared an order of cupcakes for his niece and an order for his nephew. The two orders have the same number of cupcakes. The shop ran out of the identical gift boxes that are use to package cupcakes, so there are a few unpackaged cupcakes. Bill establishes the equation 3x + 1 = 2x + 3 and solves it for the number of cupcakes per box. (I don't know why this skit is called "Balancing Equations". That sounds like a topic from chemistry.)

Dimensional Analysis (5 min)
Bill uses a large speed limit sign that holds a set of peel-away posters. He explains how the units of measure involving distance, rate (i.e. speed) and time are balanced in calculations based on the equation: distance = (rate)(time). He asserts that you don't need to remember the equation or do manipulations of it to solve problems. You merely remember to balance the units on both sides of the calculation.

Linear Equations (5 min)
At a bowling alley, lanes have fitted with laser sensors that are attached to a computer. They produce a graph of the distance the ball has traveled down the lane vs the time. The graphs for three people are shown, Bill, a big unskilled guy and a skilled girl. These graphs illustrate "linear functions". (There is nothing in this skit about "linear equations".)

The setting of the lesson has features that will probably confuse a child who actually thinks about the material. One conceptual trap is to confused the line defining the path of a bowling ball with the a line on the graph of distance vs time. The lines on the graph pass through the origin, so there is an unstated convention that time begins at 0 when the ball is at 0 distance. The distance measured by the sensors is only one component of the location of the ball. If the bowlers rolled the balls straight down the alley, this conceptual complication would not arise, but part of the humor in the skit is for Bill to roll some gutter balls.
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on February 12, 2010
I purchased this for my middle school library - just got around to viewing it. A bit of fluff without covering a lot of territory (about 3 min per episode). They could have done a bit more to instruct more (show multiple examples). It might work for a little review, but I think it would be confusing to students/kids who aren't familiar with the topics. For example, dimensional analysis/factor labeling can be quite confusing for students, and I don't think the episode clarifies much. Perhaps Bill is best to stick with Science.
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on May 27, 2011
I thought that the DVD was going to help a little more but all it did was give like 4 examples and didn't really explain anything. Don't buy this dvd...
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on September 30, 2012
As a math teacher, I have found these videos entertaining for students and very helpful for keeping student engagement high. However, the price Amazon is expecting you to pay for this DVD is incredibly overpriced. Go to iTunes and download this item for $1.99.
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on December 10, 2012
Same as the other Bill Nye Math Series.....not up to the same standards and educational value as the beloved Bill Nye the Science Guy. Waste of my money.
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on November 19, 2009
This excellent, educational Disney DVDs helps make basic algebra accessible to young people. This is a "classroom edition" DVDs particularly ideal for use in public or private schools (or home schooling). Bill Nye's Solving For X: Algebra I, Volume 1 covers variables, balancing equations, dimensional analysis, and linear equations. Enhancing the colorful presentation featuring ways in which mathematics is directly useful in real life, the Solving for X DVDs also includes an interactive whiteboard assessment game that students can play independently, in teams, or as an entire class, as well as a downloadable educator's guide with additional resources and activities, and correlations to National Curriculum Standards. Due to its step-by-step, user-friendly format, this DVDs is also useful for teens and adults who need a refresher in algebra basics! Highly recommended.
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on December 23, 2014
The information on here is good, just not a lot of it. Gives a good starter intro to a lesson, but that is about all, no where near as in depth as his science series.
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on February 2, 2013
My daughter, who usually hates math, loved the teaching process and learned more than she could've in an entire semester at public school.
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on January 20, 2015
Bill Nye is awesome!!
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on July 31, 2014
Mostly good.
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