This project team is working to develop a learning product that uses games and animations to help students build a conceptual understanding of mathematics by engaging them in discussion, problem solving, and understanding vocabulary in context, moving beyond simple fluency in operations. The products, as well as the development model that created them, differ from existing digital learning products by offering teachers and students the opportunity to explore mathematics at a deeper level using the Common Core Math Practices. Additionally, these products are being developed in both English and Spanish and are designed to be an alternative to the typical current models of drills, practice games and "how-to" lectures.
The most immediate impact of the proposed activity would be to expand access and availability of the learning products to a larger audience through partnerships with both for profit and nonprofit groups. Through relationships with publishers, school districts, and online distributors, more students and teachers would be able to use product materials as a result of broader implementation, national exposure, and shared distribution through online portals. In expanding to a larger audience, this work has the potential to take proven strategies for all learners nationwide, encouraging even more underrepresented students to enter STEM careers or identify additional ways to support this critical group of learners.
In 2010, NSF awarded NMSU a four year development and research grant called Math Snacks. In the fall of 2012, NSF awarded NMSU an I-Corp grant to explore the viability of introducing the products developed by Math Snacks to the marketplace. In 2013 the Math Snacks I-Corp team, Dr. Karen Trujillo, Dr. Kevin Boberg, and Dr. Kerry McKee, embarked on their I-Corp experience. During the spring and summer of 2013, the I-Corp team spent 6 months making over 100 direct contacts with stakeholders and creating a business canvas to determine the viability of Math Snacks becoming a business. At the end of this time period, the team was confident about the possibility, but with only 11 products it became clear that developing a business model where there was enough revenue to support the necessary development of additional products was not viable. The I-Corp experience helped the entire Math Snacks team realize that strategic partnerships are vital in order to maintain a presence in the crowded world of educational applications and games. As we continue to seek funding for new development projects, the I-Corp experience has taught us that establishing partnerships is essential to secure distribution and dissemination agreements for current and future products. Below you will see a consolidation of the partnerships and promotions established throughout the Math Snacks project. Please visit www.mathsnacks.org for access to all products. Partnerships for Promotion and Distribution of Math Snacks Math Snacks partners actively with nonprofit and commercial educational portals to distribute and promote Math Snacks online. BrainPOP, one of the leading portals used by schools to access educational media, now offers all five Math Snacks games at its game portal GameUp and recently featured our game Gate at the site and in its back-to-school newsletter. This spring, we entered into licensing agreements for the use of selected Math Snacks tools with WGBHâ€™s MathCore (part of PBS Learning Media) and with HippoCampus.org (part of the NROC Project), and with DOCENT/Digital Promise (powered by Engrade)." Recently, we have joined a select group of game developer beta partners working with the nonprofit GlassLab to integrate their learning assessment tools. A pioneer in game-based assessment, GlassLab (maker of SimCityEdu) is providing its analytics tools, which can capture telemetry ("clickstream") data, to third-party developers for the first time this fall. Ongoing distribution channels for Math Snacks include iTunes U, Edmodo.com, Cal State Universityâ€™s Merlot, Pearson Online Learning Exchange (OLE), Playful Learning, the Serious Games Directory and ClarkChart. Weâ€™ve also seen Math Snacks highlighted by reviewers and users at Common Sense Mediaâ€™s Graphite.org, at Educade.com, EdSurge.com, eSpark, ed.ted.com, and even at the (non-educational) gaming site JayIsGames, where Gate and Game Over Gopher have earned accolades to their fun and challenging gameplay. In addition, weâ€™ve seen individual teachers, bloggers, and students posting about the games on their personal blogs, on Edmodo, at Pinterest, at Facebook and Twitter, and on YouTube (including "History Mode" playthroughs of Game Over Gopher, in which players screen-captures themselves playing a game with full achievements). At the iOS app store, teachers and students can download the game Pearl Diver for $0.99 and Ratio Rumble for $1.99. The decision to charge for these games at the app store was made in part because industry wisdom suggests that user perception of value is higher if apps are offered at a low cost rather than free. Math Snacks animations are available freely from iTunes U, YouTube and TeacherTube as well as in app form via the Math Snacks Video Player. We have discussed further Math Snacks app distribution with several potential partners, including Bay Area education start-ups SmartEdPad and Fingerprint Play/SylvanPlay. As we learn more about which paid channels are most appropriate for helping our apps to reach a wide audience, we expect to fairly quickly enter into agreements with one or more app distribution platforms.