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MathBait™ Multiplication

Music of the Primes

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Can you play a number? With MathBait™ you can! In this one-of-a-kind activity students practice prime factorization by creating their own number-tune.


Resource Type

Digital Game

Primary Topic

Primes & Factoring







This activity is particularly fun as it allows us to view mathematics and numbers in a totally different light! In Marco the Great and the History of Numberville, we describe prime factors as number "traits". They are the basic DNA of a number. This analogy will take students far. It is particularly helpful for finding values such as the greatest common factor and least common multiple (The Kryptografima offers a plethora of games including the classroom favorite Super Sleuth which allows students to use Venn Diagrams and a visual representation to help organize factors).

In thinking about prime factors as "traits", we can begin to consider what would a number sound like? In Music of the Primes we do just that! Each of the primes have been assigned a note. In this activity, students begin by finding the prime factorization of a given value - be mindful! While we know each prime factorization is unique, the way in which we factor will give rise to new and interesting tunes for students to play. For example, factoring 90 as 2×5×3×3 will produce a different melody than factoring as 2×3×3×5 and so on. 

Once their factorization is complete, they will be able to select the length of each note (whole, half, quarter) and "play" their number! What is particularly interesting about this activity is that each note was created using mathematics! We used sine curves to match a note's frequency, prime factorization to determine the notes, and the note length utilizes fractions - each working together to create the musical representation! Math is truly everywhere and Music of the Primes is not only a fun way to practice prime factorization, but also an interesting way to think about numbers and the mathematics all around us.

Music of the Primes is great for students just learning to factor a number as they need only to identify a single "trait". For example, if factoring 189 students can notice 3 is a factor. After entering 3, the activity will fill in the corresponding value of 63. Students then continue to factor 63 to complete their measure.

Prime factorization of 189 as music notes

Make sure to have sound on! Unfortunately, the program we use to create our games, GeoGebra, is limited in its ability to "play" a note. The resulting sound is similar to a touchtone. Extend and connect to other areas by having students play their number on an accompanying instrument.


©MathBait created with GeoGebra

The material on this page is copyrighted by MathBait™. Please use and enjoy it! MathBait™ provides a temporary license for Non-Commercial purposes. You are not permitted to copy, distribute, sell, or make derivative work without written permission from MathBait™. 

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