# Math products seek engagement with robotics, gaming

### RobotsLAB, KnowRe try a new approach to math instruction

At the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) conference in Austin this month, several companies demonstrated products designed to help teach math.

Two that stood out in particular were RobotsLAB and KnowRe, which have taken different approaches to boost engagement in a subject that’s often inaccessible to students.

Robots show real-world relevance of math equations

Students often struggle to grasp the meaning of abstract equations, but San Francisco-based RobotsLAB brings these concepts to life with a family of robotic devices. The RobotsLAB BOX includes four robots and a tablet computer that comes pre-loaded with a science and math curriculum for teaching with the devices.

Aligned with Common Core standards, the curriculum includes 50 hours of interactive lessons demonstrating Algebra I and II, Geometry, Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, and Physics concepts, helping students understand why math is relevant to their world.

Without any prior experience in robotics or computer science, RobotsLAB says, teachers can demonstrate abstract concepts such as slope, sine, cosine, and vectors—right out of the “box.”

A robotic arm, called an ArmBot, helps teach students about angles, triangles, the Pythagorean Theorem, arc lengths, sine, cosine, polar coordinates, radians, and more. A robotic ball helps teach linear equations, probability, and momentum.

A cylindrical robot with independently rotating gears at each end, called a “Mobot” (short for mobile robot), teaches about complementary angles, distances, and angular velocity. And what might be the most intriguing robot, a quadcopter (a helicopter with four rotating blades), teaches about quadratic equations, gravity, and acceleration.

For instance, a two-dimensional graph of the area spanned by a camera attached to the bottom of the quadcopter shows that this area is defined by an inverted parabola, and students can see how the equation representing this parabola changes as the copter rises or descends.

“I’ve seen students react to the robots very positively,” said Peter Stone, a computer science professor at the University of Texas-Austin, in a video on the RobotsLAB website. “I sat in a lesson at a high school detention on a weekend, and the students came in clearly not wanted to be there. When the quadcopter came out and started flying around the room, they were immediately engaged.”

(Next page: An adaptive, game-like approach to personalizing math instruction)

The RobotsLAB BOX is priced at \$3,500, with volume discounts available.

Adaptive, game-like approach helps personalize learning

At TCEA 2014, ed-tech startup KnowRe formally launched its adaptive math curriculum for middle and high school students, which has been piloted by 34 U.S. schools in the last year.

KnowRe was born from a popular after-school math academy in South Korea that focused on providing a personalized learning experience for each student. As the academy grew in size, its founders realized the limitations of this personalized approach—so they decided to build an ed-tech tool that would replicate it.

“KnowRe’s technology offers student assessments with an unrivaled level of granularity and accuracy, from which it generates a personalized and adaptive curriculum targeting each individual student’s weaknesses,” said co-founder David Joo in a press release.

The software delivers these lessons and assessments through an interactive world that looks and feels like a game, and assignments are given in the form of a quest. A “Walk-me-through” feature offers a step-by-step process for solving problems, and short videos illustrate math concepts in a concise and friendly way.

For teachers, a dashboard shows the progress of each student and the class as a whole. KnowRe’s developers are working to add social messaging tools to foster collaboration among students as well.

For more news about TCEA exhibitors, see:

Four school video tools worth exploring

zSpace takes 3D learning to a whole new level

Two handy products to support school iPad use

In a survey of pilot schools, 70 percent of students said KnowRe has helped them learn math—while 93 percent of teachers said it has helped boost achievement.

“I am seeing my students’ confidence building,” said Danielle Kostevich, a middle school math teacher at Downtown College Prep in San Jose, Calif., in a press release. “KnowRe allows you to personalize learning in a way that was never possible.”

KnowRe is an online, HTML5-based curriculum, so it works on any device’s browser. It includes Algebra I and Pre-Algebra, and the company plans to release Algebra 2 and Geometry by the end of the year, with Calculus and Statistics to follow.

Follow eSchool News Editor in Chief Dennis Pierce at @eSN_Dennis.

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