24 Jul 2013
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Making maths fun

By Rebecca Wood

For many students, maths is a least favourite subject. But a New Zealand-developed app is set to change the way many kids think about maths.

The Math Machine, developed by Auckland-based Gingerbread Kids, provides maths tuition disguised as a fun, addictive game for primary-aged students.

Currently available as an iPad app, with an android version due for release shortly, the system teaches the building blocks of math, from number sequencing to multiplication.

Helen Littlewood, creative director and founder of Gingerbread Kids, says the app started to take shape 18 months ago when her own daughter came home from school and said she wasn’t into maths.

“I started looking online for resources to help and found lots of worksheets and resources that I could print out and stick in a folder. It was old fashioned and not very exciting.”

So Littlewood set out to research the New Zealand maths curriculum and develop a system to help spark her daughter’s enthusiasm for the subject. With initial versions of the game, her daughters’ test results went from the bottom quarter of the class to the top.

“It brings together the learning needs of the kids with new technology,” says Littlewood. “I feel strongly that it’s not trying to teach, but that it gives teachers an additional tool to use. It reinforces the learning that is occurring in the classroom.”

The Math Machine is just one of 12 apps Gingerbread Kids plan to develop over the next 24 months. The next two apps, Place Value Houses and Fractions Machine, are in the pipeline.

Another unique aspect of the app is that it is bi-lingual. Initially released in English and Te Reo for the New Zealand market, a Spanish/English version is currently in development for the North and South American markets.

“The Americas are a good market to target,” says Littlewood. “It has a large consumer base and they are technology forward.”

It was a conscious choice to make the app bi-lingual Littlewood says. “Maths is the only truly international language. However, languages are either sidelined or forgotten as far as technology is concerned. Our product provides skills for maths, if you drop in languages, you have a strong export product.”

The Math Machine is now available on iTunes or visit www.gingerbreadkids.com to find out about the android version.

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