Why I Created a Math Game – One Mom’s Story

Did you know that a startling 60% of college eligible students require remedial help – which they have to pay college tuition for? Studies show that kids who are falling behind in the early grades tend to stay behind through high school. And, because math builds on prior knowledge, many start 9th grade not prepared for high school level math classes.

I am a former reluctant and complaining math student. Throughout my school years I was enthusiastic about learning in most of my classes. But math never seemed to make sense to me. Sure, it was important to count and understand how to measure things and deal with money – but after a certain point, math didn’t appear to have any connection to reality. I certainly didn’t observe any adult that I knew who was actually using anything beyond the basics.

In high school, we learned about things like the relationship between the sides of a triangle, prime numbers, and even something called “imaginary numbers”! Seriously, these were numbers that the teacher admitted did not exist. (Funny, the English teachers never made us learn the meanings of words that didn’t exist.) Of course, we asked why we had to spend so much time and effort mastering these ideas and formulas – but the stock answers were, “because it will be on the test” or “because if you take higher level math or science in college, you’ll need this as a foundation”! I don’t know how we were supposed to be motivated and many of us were not. And now I know that girls especially want to know why and how a formula works, not just when to use it mechanically to get an answer the teacher assures them is correct.

Years later, when I had a daughter, I didn’t want her to have the same experience I did. I wanted to inspire her in math. With the explosion of STEM careers anticipated in the future job market, it was obvious that in the 21st century, math would be more important than ever. So I began to look for math learning toys wherever I could discover them. But one of the things I couldn’t find was a game to teach my kid how negative numbers work.

I wanted an educational toy that teaches negative numbers because I remember vividly how bizarre they seemed when I first encountered them in school. It was a mental stretch to subtract a larger number from a smaller one, or use negative numbers in multiplication! How much easier would it have been if I had a fun visual way to make it more relatable and concrete. By simplifying negative numbers into graphic form on a game board, I hope to make them fun and easy for kids. I’d like to help lay the foundation for the more complex ideas surrounding them later in their studies, and boost their self confidence in math. And, I wanted a solution for parents who want to help their kid pass math and parents who want the best possible math enrichment for their kids.

Creating and producing a learning game is never easy, but after a lot of research and design work, my game is now ready to play.  The game is simple, kids just open the box and follow the directions on the cards. (To see card samples, and learn how, see FAQS. )  And, recently, I Googled “uses for imaginary numbers” just out of curiosity. It turns out they do have real world applications – in electronics.

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