Math Applications for Academically Precocious Teens

A Seattle area dad called last week because his 12 year old daughter is bored in math.  Local schools lack gifted education–he felt like they were on their own to find ways to challenge his daughter with interesting applications of math.They liked EPGY from Stanford but asked, “What’s next?  He wondered, “Why aren’t there any cool application games like SimCity or Oregon Trail for older and more advanced students.”  He heard about cool math classes for homeschoolers from Derek Owens but found out kids fax in their homework and thought, “Seriously?

He knew about all the game-based and adaptive K-8 resources I mentioned–Dreambox, Mangahigh, ST Math–and had been through them.  I explained that pre-algebra had received most of the philanthropic and venture investment to date–and, to some extent, marks the end of creative thinking about math and its applications.

Algebra typically starts the high school course and credit system.  Developers start thinking courseware and learning management systems.  Online learning allows students to go faster but not necessarily deeper.  I mentioned Mathalicious as an example of a site with lots of cool math applications.  There’s also:

Other promising vectors for academically precocious teens include:

What would you add to the list?

DreamBox and MIND Research Institute are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners. is a  portfolio company of Learn Capital where Tom is a partner.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Focused on the use of functions only, but impressive none-the-less, I'd add the collaborative effort from Dan Meyer ( and the team at Desmos:
Function Carnival

Kenneth Tilton

I am still debugging the beast, but it did well in the '90s as a desktop app for Macs:
This old marketing site has two nice notes from users from back then who dug me up a decade later to see if the app was still available:
More current marketing hype is here: Both that and the beef page are still under construction, but both are quite usable. Should be ready for prime time in a couple of months.

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