Behind the App: SlateScience Debuts SlateMath, Attends SXSWedu

Learning math can be daunting and sometimes overwhelming. Enter SlateScience, whose debut app, SlateMath hopes to end math frustration before it begins. Plus, the app adapts to a child’s strengths and weaknesses while she plays. How cool is that?

SlateScience’s CEO and co-founder, Guy Vardi, was kind enough to explain how SlateMath makes learning more intuitive, while adhering to Common Core standards. He also shares what SlateScience has planned for SXSWedu.

(PadGadget): Slate Science was named a K-12 finalist in SXSW 2013 LAUNCHedu Education Start-up competition. Can you tell me a little bit about this honor? What are you planning to do in Austin?
(Slate Science): We are very excited about our participation in SXSWedu. At the conference, we will be actively participating in three sessions,

• Our co-founder and two-time TED Speaker, Professor Shimon Schocken, will kick off our participation as part of the “Future 15” series with a 12-minute presentation titled, “A Tablet-Based Voyage of Math Discovery.”

• Slate Science will participate in the LAUNCHedu pitch contest before a jury of educators, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists, as well as a live audience of SXSWedu attendees who will be treated to a glimpse of the most promising educational startups in the market.

“This exciting, fast-paced competition highlights the solution-seeking visionaries who are revolutionizing the world of education” – SXSWedu web site

• Slate Science will participate in the Startup Showcase event, which offers conference attendees the opportunity to interact with executives from represented companies and get hands-on, tabletop demos of their products and solutions.

(PG): What inspired SlateMath?
(SS): The SlateMath series was conceived to address the global frustration with learning math. We see a tremendous opportunity to use tablet technology and constructive pedagogy to endear math to children, and to help them develop into confident and competent thinkers. We designed the series with two purposes in mind:

• To teach math through self-paced exploration and engaging discovery
• To expose children to the ways mathematicians think and reason about the world

In addition, we see three emerging trends that together create a unique opportunity to transform math education and provide the perfect setting for SlateMath:
1. Tablets have radically changed the way we interact with computers providing an interface that allows direct manipulation of objects on a screen
2. Big data allows better tracking of student performance as well as the ability to adapt the curriculum to the needs of each student
3. The widespread adoption of Common Core Math Standards eliminating friction and enabling better collaboration among teachers

(PG): Who is the audience for SlateMath?
(SS): The users for our SlateMath K-1 products are children. Specifically, kids not yet in school, or children that have already entered pre-kindergarten or first grade.

(PG): How does SlateMath promote self-learning?
(SS): Rather than offering frontal videos, and/or drill and skill practice, we focus on crafting constructive learning environments that guide children through a rewarding process of self-discovery and intuitive exploration.

Our learning methodologies tap into children’s natural and intuitive learning processes, and help them constructively acquire knowledge and competence using self-guided, as well as teacher-guided exploration.

Chris Crawford, one of my favorite game designers, once said that fun is the emotional response to learning. We try to bring back the fun and the Aha! moment to the learning experience.

(PG): Common Core Standards are still a new concept for many parents. Can you explain how SlateMath ties in to them?
(SS): The SlateMath methodology offers fun and interactive ways to learn math and develop analytical skills, and is driven by the Common Core Mathematics Standards adopted by 45 U.S. states. It is designed to be a companion to in-classroom teaching of the Common Core curriculum, following along to help students conceptually learn and understand each of the disciplines addressed by the Math Standards.

SlateMath also includes some topics that although not part of the Common Core curriculum, are important because they will make the transition to the new standards easier. In addition, we are working on a version that will help make the transition even easier.

(PG): Why did Slate Science decide to consider the Common Core Standards when designing SlateMath?
(SS): We decided to consider the Common Core Standards because the concept and goals of Common Core are in alignment with our forward-looking vision and objective of providing clarity.
The nice thing about the Standards is that it eliminates friction between different school districts, facilitates better collaboration between teachers, and allows us to address the needs of a wider audience. Common Core also creates new challenges for teachers, and SlateMath is designed help ease the transition to the new standards.

(PG): How will teachers be able to customize use of the app with the authoring tool?
(SS): We want SlateMath to empower teachers. Teachers will have several ways to customize the app, including organizing the episodes according to the particular text book their school uses. In the future, teachers will also be able to customize, create, and share their own episodes using SlateMath providing them even greater flexibility and control.

(PG): What’s the next release you have planned for the Slate Science franchise?
(SS): The next product release we have planned is SlateMath K-1 which we are announcing today. SlateMath K-1 takes children on a journey of playful explorations that guide them through the process of intuitively acquiring seven kindergarten and first grade math fundamentals: Counting, Writing Digits, Addition, Comparison and Order, Parity, Patterns, and Problem Solving. These topics are learned through a progression of 30 engaging activities, each designed to endow a well-defined mathematical concept, skill, or insight.

We want everyone to have access to this technology and opportunity, and are offering SlateMath K-1 as a free download through Apple’s App Store.

Now it’s time for the speed round. Which term do you prefer?
• Lightning or 30-pin? Lightning
• Facebook or Twitter? Facebook
• iPad or iPhone? iPad
• Guerilla Marketing or Gorilla glass? Gorilla glass
• Wi-Fi or cellular? Wi-Fi
• Smart watch or pocket watch? Smart watch
• Work or sleep? Work
• Pie or cake? Pie

Download SlateMath from the App Store for free.

About Emily: Emily is a freelance writer who loves discovering new apps whenever she can pry the iPad away from her children or husband. You can contact her via Twitter: @whatwentwrite