SBIR Phase I: Conceptual Math Learning for Elementary School Children using Manipulatives in Tactile Games

Period of Performance: 01/01/2016 - 06/30/2016

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Infinut Software Inc
12935 NE 130th ST
Kirkland, WA 98034
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

This SBIR Phase 1 project will develop games that teach math conceptually to young school children in kindergarten. The games, built for touch devices, simulate a part of the real world, to make math learning deep and interesting. The project will also study how these games impact children's understanding of mathematics. Given that 80 percent of the fastest-growing occupations are dependent on knowledge of mathematics and science, schools in the US need research-driven math learning software to use in the classrooms. US taxpayers pay for all the resources used in schools through local, state and federal taxes. The games developed with this SBIR project will cost schools less than typical math learning software available to them. With 1% of approximately 20 million elementary school students in US public schools using the software, the savings to taxpayers will be between $1.5 to $3.5 million per year. The games will provide deep, engaging math learning for students. As a result, more students may choose to pursue science and engineering occupations in the future. The long-term returns will be through the accomplishments of the students. Game-based math learning has the potential to revolutionize education. But, most games are focused on media and gaming elements rather than learning. On the other hand, gamification of education, with rewards on top of existing multiple-choice tests and drills, does not improve depth of learning. This project will build visual and interactive math exercises that explain and exemplify elementary math concepts. For example, students will learn addition of 2+2 by moving 2 strawberries into a box, adding two more strawberries, and counting the strawberries in the box to figure out the answer. The project will build 25 lessons with 20 interactive games for kindergarten school children. Students will manipulate simulated objects on screen using touch. Voice instructions will guide the students. To guide learning, each game will provide contextual voice hints, and feedback when students make mistakes. The software will also include a dashboard that teachers will use to see how their students are progressing with the lessons. With the goal of improving the games so that they are intuitive for learners to use, researchers will gather feedback as the games are played in a typical school classroom a few times a week for many weeks.