Keith Devlin encouraging those in attendance to think outside the box when it comes to learning math. (Ariana Berkemeier / The Signpost)
Keith Devlin encourages those in attendance to think outside the box when it comes to learning math. (Ariana Berkemeier / The Signpost)

Most people, especially those who don’t like math, don’t think of math as an activity that can be fun, but Keith Devlin, more commonly known as “Math Guy,” believes that math can be fun for people of all ages.

Weber State University was able to host a lecture by Keith Devlin on Feb. 26. Students, staff, faculty and the community were all invited to attend the lecture.

Devlin is the executive director, and a co-founder, of Stanford University’s H-STAR institute and a co-founder of the Stanford Media X Research network. Currently Devlin has focused his efforts into using media, such as tablets to teach mathematics.

Devlin is also president and a co-founder of BrainQuake. BrainQuake is a company that creates video games designed to help people learn mathematics. Devlin believes most of the apps that claim to help people learn math actually only help people to learn repetition instead of the actual concepts.

“There are over 20,000 apps that claim to help you learn math,” Devlin explained. “But most of them don’t actually help anyone learn math.”

Devlin’s lecture focus on the important of using the technology that has been created to help kids learn math.

“These devices can seem more like toys but they can actually be used to help people of all ages learn mathematics,” said Devlin.

Devlin also touched on the importance of using real-life mathematics to help people learn math instead of focusing on the symbols that are usually involved with learning math. Devlin showed statistics from a study that was done on kids involving real-life mathematics.

The study showed, as Devlin explained, that kids were able to perform real-life mathematics with a success rate of 98 percent. Although when the same kids were given the math problems in the form of a paper test their success rate dropped to only 37 percent.

BrainQuake has developed an application that allows people of all ages to learn mathematics concepts. The application Wuzzit Trouble is centered on little creatures called “wuzzits,” who are trapped and need to be set free.

Players have to solve the math problems in as few moves as possible. The game provides an environment where people can learn and won’t be judged if they fail.

Audry Richards, a senior majoring in elementary education, thought Devlin was very knowledgeable.

“He had a lot of great information, and I am actually excited to play the game,” said Richards. “I also think it is something that can be easily applied in classrooms, so I am excited to try that out.”

“Most people are born with relatively good math abilities,” said Devlin. “But the problems start when they begin to learn math using only symbols.”

Mitchell Gaddis, a junior currently in the electronics engineering liked the approach the app takes on learning the concepts of math instead of just the symbols.

“I actually want to download the Wuzzit Trouble application for my kids and let them play it,” said Gaddis.

Studies were done to test the effectiveness of the application. Two classes of third grade students were involved in the study. One class, the control, didn’t play the Wuzzit Trouble app. The experimental group was allowed to play the Wuzzit Trouble app for 10 minutes a day over the span of four weeks.

By the end of the four weeks, the experimental group had improved dramatically.

“It was the kids with the most to gain who ended up gaining the most,” Devlin said to sum up the study.

Ashlee Scott, a junior majoring in elementary education attended the lecture and found the research that was done to be interesting.

“It was amazing how much the kids had improved just from using the Wuzzit Trouble app,” said Scott.

Devlin’s approach to math allows people to learn math concepts using a device that can fit in their pocket. For more information about the application and to find out if it is available on your device, visit the Wuzzit Trouble website.

 

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