Buck Institute for Education

Xbox Xponential

Author: Mathalicious

What will my students be doing?

In Xbox Xponential, students write an exponential function based on the Atari 2600 and Moore's Law and explore this even further in three project tasks, More Laws, Power Play and What Gives, Nintendo?

What's Included:

  • Project Overview
  • Launch Activity & Lesson Guide
  • Project Tasks
  • Student Handouts
  • Teacher Guides
  • Interactive Media

Current Version: January 10, 2018

In 1965 Gordon Moore, computer scientist and Intel co-founder, predicted that computer processor speeds would double every two years. Twelve years later the first modern video game console, the Atari 2600, was released.

In the launch activity of Xbox Xponential, students write an exponential function based on the Atari 2600 and Moore’s Law. They research other consoles and create a scatter plot of speed over time. They write and interpret an equation of the best-fit curve of this data to determine whether video game processors have followed Moore’s Law.

Students explore this even further in the project tasks, and can choose between three topics.  In one task, students research the growth in capacity of other technologies like digital cameras or wireless bandwidth. In another, they investigate alternatives to processor speed, like memory or graphics, to measure the power of a console. In still one more task, they investigate why Nintendo’s processors are always slower than the competition, and by how much.

Project Notes

  • Subjects: Math
  • Grade Level: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
  • Common Core Aligned
  • Time Required: <10 Hours
  • CC BY-NC

Sponsored By


The World Is an Interesting Place. Math Class Should Be, Too.

At Mathalicious, we think the world is an interesting place full of interesting questions. Do people with small feet pay too much for shoes? Do taller Olympic sprinters have an unfair advantage? How have video game consoles changed over timeā€¦and are we building the Matrix?

We also think math class is the perfect place for students and teachers to explore questions like these, and that it can be the most interesting part of the day.

Project Documents

Project Author

Mathalicious creates lessons around real-world topics that help middle and high-school teachers address the Common Core while challenging their students to think more critically about the world. Lessons explore such questions as, Do people with small feet pay too much for shoes, and should Nike charge by weight? (unit rates), and How does memory deteriorate over time, and how much can you trust it? (exponential decay). For more information, or to view its growing library of lessons, please visit www.mathalicious.com.