STEM students create technology to re-Kinect kids to math
Today’s kids love video gaming. But math? Maybe not so much. Enter a team of UW Bothell students and faculty, who envisioned connecting cutting edge gaming technology with math education to inspire students to love learning.
Math professor Robin Agnotti approached computer science professor Kelvin Sung about her idea to teach math concepts to kids interactively. Kelvin in turn recruited student Jeb Pavleas, who was interested in doing a project with Microsoft’s Xbox gaming system, Kinect, which employs sensor technology allowing users to interact with computers by moving their bodies.
“What we set out to do was to make an application to make math more approachable,” Jeb explains. “I like being able to come up with new solutions to problems. Professor Sung and UW Bothell gave me the opportunity to put my ideas into action.”
Fellow student Jack Chang also joined the team, and soon, KinectMath was born.
“I dropped out of high school because I played a lot of video games and found lectures to be boring and tedious,” says Jack. “I wanted to help students like me, who struggled with lectures, by turning math into a fun and enjoyable subject.”
Today, K-12 teachers are using KinectMath – provided free of charge online by its UW Bothell inventors – to give students an easier way to visualize abstract mathematical concepts.
I now have calls from all over the country and all over the world about KinectMath,” Robin says. “Jeb is going to change the field of math education. That’s just huge.”
Jeb completed his Bachelor’s degree, earning the prestigious Chancellor’s Medal for his extraordinary commitment to learning, and is now in UW Bothell’s master’s program. And members of the team have stayed together to publish a book about gaming. Jeb plans to take what he’s learned and done at UW Bothell with him when he begins his career. “Relationships with the professors at UW Bothell mean everything to students and their future,” Jeb says.