It’s time for Math and Word Game Time with Josh Solt.
INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero
Frustrated by the online educational options on the market, Josh Solt created Math Game Time. “Many of the sites I came across were dated, cost prohibitive or cluttered with inappropriate ads,” he says. Josh set out to change that by working closely with a team of educators to create a simple website that caters to students, parents and teachers. “My goal was to build an immersive and fun educational playground that was safe and age-appropriate,” he says. On the mobile front, he was inspired to create fun math apps that kids could play as an alternative to games which lack an educational component. With the world increasingly moving towards mobile, Josh saw more and more kids borrowing their parents’ iPhones and iPads. “I wanted to create apps specifically tailored to children so that parents would feel comfortable letting their kids use those devices,” he says. Here, Josh shows us his work and what it all adds up to.
Victor: What is Math Game Time exactly? Who helped create it?
Josh: Math Game Time is a website for free children’s math games, worksheets and videos. I created the site and sister site Word Game Time with the help of both a team of teachers and a child therapist who curated the content. We have also launched several mobile apps including Math Monkey, Fraction Monkey and Fishy Math. Our brand seeks to convey the notion that math can be fun and engaging. The most effective learning occurs when children don’t realize they’re learning. We want children to associate math with positive feelings rather than perceiving it as a difficult subject to approach.
Victor: What does it do? What are the benefits?
Josh: It’s often a struggle motivating children to practice math. Math Game Time seeks to replace that reluctance with a fulfilling and enjoyable experience. We try to increase kids’ motivation to learn by embedding educational concepts into a dynamic environment. It’s especially gratifying to witness a child asking to practice math without having to be coaxed. MathGameTime.com offers free interactive math games, worksheets, video tutorials and homework help for Pre-K through 7th grade students. All topics are conveniently categorized by subject and grade level. We also have a blog with informational tools and stories for teachers and parents. For example, our blog offers tips for 5th grade success and ideas on helping children learn. Math Game Time is designed to be a learning supplement and is utilized by many parents and teachers seeking to keep their students’ minds sharp during computer lab or over the long summer.
Victor: How is it unique from other similar products/services?
Josh: Math Game Time differentiates itself by categorizing free math games by grade level and subject, such as Multiplication or Geometry. What is most unique about our company is that our staff is in the educational field on a daily basis. This ensures our content is relevant and grade appropriate. We try to connect with students in a number of ways to foster curiosity. Educational games, worksheets, social media, images and videos are all part of our plan to engage students and their parents on multiple levels.
Victor: When was it developed and who uses it?
Today, it’s very rewarding to watch children use our sites and apps. Math Game Time and Word Game Time have been used successfully by parents and teachers alike and I love getting feedback.
Victor: Did you play any educational games growing up?
Josh: I remember playing games like “Oregon Trail” and “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” as a kid. Those games showed me early on that it was possible to create a fun game with an educational angle.
Victor: How much does Math Game Time cost?
Josh: Math Game Time is a completely free website and is ad supported. All of the ads on our sites have been screened and are safe for children. Our educational iOS apps vary in cost and Fishy Math is currently on sale for $.99.
Victor: How does Math Game Time address some of your concerns about education?
Josh: The U.S. is lagging behind other countries in terms of both math and language proficiency. Our goal with Math Game Time is to compel children to spend more time learning since not every student is naturally curious about math. We need to make math more engaging and interesting for all types of students.
Victor: What is your outlook on the future of education?
Josh: Despite numerous hurdles, I remain optimistic about the future of education. Khan Academy and startups like DreamBox Learning are ushering in a new era of education. $600 billion per year is spent on education in the United States and we must continue to improve our school systems and innovate. Ten years ago, students had to learn Geometry from their assigned teacher. Ten years from now, students should have the ability to learn Geometry from the best teacher in the world. Hopefully, this can happen much sooner. There exist tremendous opportunities in terms of revolutionary apps, collaborative education platforms and adaptive learning. I’m excited to see what the future holds and want to make sure our products will be a part of it.
Victor Rivero is the Editor in Chief of EdTech Digest. Leaders, Trendsetters and Cool Tool creators: enter the 2014 EdTech Digest Awards Recognition Program. For full details, write to: [email protected]