Published: 11th June 2020
This Chennai-based start-up is helping kids fall in love with Math and it is all fun and games. Literally
Math Love, an initiative by two women passionate about Math, sparks in children a love for Math through simple games and workbooks. Currently, they have gone online and are continuing their good work
Falling in love with Math is not easy. It is filled with 'problems' every step of the way. It is not romantic because it is completely based on 'logic' and over and above all this, doesn't leave any scope for errors. But though it makes for a difficult 'lover', if you learn its mysterious ways and let it claim your heart, it serves as a great companion. And if it isn't working out, Math Love is here to play cupid between Math and students.
Alamelu Kathiresan and Shalini Ilanahai | (Pic: Math Love)
Keep it simple, silly
"Every time I would start a Math lesson in my class, all the students would start to make random reasons to miss it, saying that their mother is outside and she is calling them," confesses Math Love's Co-Founder Alamelu Kathiresan while laughing out loud. This was back in 2016-2018, the two years which she dedicated to teaching with Teach For India along with friend and fellow Math lover, Shalini Ilanahai. Alamelu was working in a corporate company while Shalini was a journalist. They both quit their jobs to teach, which is their second love. Alamelu was teaching at Nungambakkam Government School and though she tried very hard, she couldn't play cupid between her students and Math, like her own teacher had done back when Alamelu herself was in class VI. "We figured that since Math is taught in an abstract way, as a subject filled with steps yet having no meaning, it is difficult for children to grasp. With other subjects, it is easier to read and understand," shares the 28-year-old.
Playing Math games | (Pic: Math Love)
But it wasn't a perpetual struggle. Soon, the duo realised that to bring in conceptual clarity they will have to go the extra mile by introducing fun games in the class. And before they knew it, in 2017, their idea evolved into what is today — a quirky, fun syllabus to help kids find their Math Love. They even tried these games and workbooks on the children enrolled with FC Madras for four months and saw a 30 per cent spike in results. An incubation at InnovatED, a Teach For India initiative to support budding start-ups, followed. Before they knew it, they had a presence in three schools in the Tondiarpet area, where they have also set up Math labs with the help of an another organisation.
Parent-child gaming workshop | (Pic: Math Love)
All those games
What are these games anyway? Imagine Snakes and Ladders, but to get to fairyland, you will have to use dice with numbers from zero to ten and solve a couple of problems while you are at it. Also, there are flashcards that help children learn equivalent fractions. About 25 games like these were for students of classes I to VI and were designed as per a standard syllabus. As and when need be, the duo aligned it with the various boards.
Math made simple | (Pic: Math Love)
Now, another challenge is staring them in the face, taking all their games online. They are using simple formulas on Microsoft Excel sheets and using Word to make posters for games like 1-2 Nim (a game that involves coins which every participant gets to pick one by one, the one who picks up the last coin wins) which students can just print and play. Then there is the integer game, wherein, as per what the die shows, they move up or down on the number line. They conduct online classes via Zoom and Google Meet and use the same services to play these games as well. They have already taken online classes for three batches with three students each and it looks like it is going well because they are even recording videos to explain these games more easily. "It wasn't easy to take the games online, but we are now learning," says Alamelu who pursued Computer Engineering from Sri Krishna College, Coimbatore and adds, "But we want to reduce their screen time by making our workbooks available on e-commerce websites and an app is in the talks too."
More exercises | (Pic: Math Love)
For more on them, check out facebook.com/passionformath