Math is hard. There is no doubt about it. Many of us have avoided mathematics since school, so how can we really expect our kids to be any more interested in the subject? Research shows that children who succeed in math are better readers, writers, speakers and all-round problem-solvers. In fact, pre-school math scores are able to predict overall scores in 5th grade, suggesting that all subjects are affected by the dreaded math.
With technology now being intertwined in almost every party of our culture, (it has a huge impact on how we live, work, relax, and arguably most importantly, how we learn), it makes perfect sense that it is now implemented in schools as an effective learning tool. This is why we were so excited to hear about Elephant Learning, a brand new app founded by University of Denver professor Dr. Alvaro Arias, and alum Dr. Aditya Nagrath, which is encouraging children to get excited about math and learn it fast!
We were lucky enough to chat to Dr. Aditya Nagrath to get the full story.
Firstly, what is Elephant Learning?
Elephant Learning is the first automated math academy for children, downloadable as an application and available on the web. We help children develop math skills faster at early age through various activities. We understand that math can be difficult for some and boring for others, and so our primary aim was to make it interesting and engaging by ensuring that it is always at your child’s level! We have created a wide array of characters and games that engage children from all walks of life and have curriculum that serves children from ages 2-12.
Aside from the activities, the app also provides detailed, real-time reports, to give parents a clear picture of what their child does and does not yet understand.
What’s different about Elephant Learning?
Something that we are very passionate about is enforcing the understanding of concepts, as opposed to simply memorization.
A good story that illustrates this is when we were recently at a Chile Festival promoting the academy. We displayed 4 groups of 5 objects to a group of children. When asked how many objects there were, the children counted and correctly answered 20. After, when asked to calculate 4 x 5, they would quickly be able to produce the answer 20; they had memorized the multiplication table, but did not have a grasp of how to use the multiplication to solve a real-life problem.
Elephant Learning uses the latest research to provide activities that are known to teach these concepts, along with advanced algorithms that determine very quickly what children do and do not understand. As a result, the child can be quickly connected to the right activity at the right time, to optimize their learning acceleration.
Our activities cover counting, comparison, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. With a concrete understanding of these subjects, algebra will become a lot easier. Children can easily memorize addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc., but if they do not fully understand the concepts, algebra will become impossible. And it’s at that point that students will lose interest in math.
Do you feel that there is more urgency for kids to excel at math in today’s world?
The world is becoming increasingly mathematical. Marketing and business is data driven to a strong degree by a solid understanding of statistics (probability) and mathematical intuition. Automation is taking over jobs in every industry. The jobs of the future require a strong background in mathematics.
The real story is that 4 out of 5 children start kindergarten unprepared for the curriculum; they do not truly understand the definitions of the mathematics that is being discussed. This is why almost half of 1st and 2nd graders report having math anxiety (leading to half of all Americans having math anxiety). And ff you are anxious of math, you are hardly becoming a physics major…
Besides memorization, are there any other factors affecting children’s learning speed?
It turns out that children from low income neighborhoods are 3 years behind their funded peers. The research also shows that the percentile score which they enter school in mathematics tends to be where they exit school, meaning that the education system does not improve this problem. On top of that it was NEVER a fair playing field! That is why Alvaro created a non profit called Math Matters that helps get scholarships to our academy to low income children. Math Matters has given out nearly three quarters of a million dollars in scholarships this year.
So have you seen a real difference in progress of children using the app?
Yes, definitely! On average, children within our system are learning 1.5 years of mathematics in just 10 weeks. We guarantee that children will learn at least 1 year in 3 months. What is most surprising is they do this in average playtimes of just 30 minutes per week. Many students have stayed with us for longer and are achieving at a faster rate. Younger children tend to get further faster because younger children are geared for learning vocabulary and at the end of the day, that is what we are teaching. All it takes is the recommended 30 minutes per week. Our real-time reporting and suggested parent activities allow you take the learning off-screen and speed learning even more. Parents can observe their children’s math skills being put into action and how it affects them in the world.
How do you expect the app to help long-term?
If children can understand these concepts faster, why memorize the multiplication tables in an environment where calculators are prevalent? What would happen if we could move children to algebra faster and we graduated more engineers and scientists? What problems does our society face that couldn’t be solved by graduating a more educated society? We often tell our children they can grow up to be whatever they want… Alvaro and I simply want to make that a reality for children today.
Sign us up! Where can we get the app?
You may enroll your children into Elephant Learning Math Academy at elephantlearning.com. Once you are enrolled, learning occurs through iOS, Android or directly from the website itself. Math Matters provides scholarships to underserved children as well as to applicants who fill out the scholarship application form.
Elephant Learning has been certified with a five-star rating by the Educational App Store. Watch
their video review and walk through below!