Revolutionizing Math Education with MIND Research

If you had asked the late Dr. Gordon Shaw, Co-founder of MIND Research Institute, about a child’s ability, he’d have told you that, “All kids are smarter than we think. We just need to give them the opportunity to develop their abilities.” That is just what MIND Research is trying to do for students all around the country, through their innovative Spatial-Temporal (ST) Math program.

Over 20 years ago, three researchers at the University of California collaborated on a simple yet innovative idea, teaching children math, the way they actually learn- visually and experientially. A few years later they created a non-profit now known as MIND Research Institute. Today their initial passion and idea has branched into innovative, visually-based software games that are helping students develop a love of math, while guiding ongoing research that looks into key questions around learning and how the brain works.

Innovative Software

Have you ever thought it would be possible to learn math without words? It’s possible and not only does ST Math help teach students crucial math concepts, it also helps them fall in love with math, develop perseverance and problem-solving skills, and grow into life-long learners.

Award-winning ST Math is an interactive software program that offers real-time, informative feedback to users. While it replaces words, it is able to provide more instruction through the feedback students receive. The concept of productive failure is evident in student success with ST Math.

In order to progress in the program, students must help a penguin (JiJi) get across the screen, through a variety of exercises. Each time students get the wrong answer, they’re given feedback that helps them learn the right steps and crucial concepts needed to solve difficult problems. And because the software is touch-enabled, kids are able to touch, feel, interact and see math work, and the concept is much more powerful than a textbook lesson and practicing problems on paper.

Today, over 800,000 students and 31,000 teachers in 2,500 schools across 40 states are using ST Math. Proof of its success is in the results. MIND Research does annual analyses of schools fully implementing the program, and on average they see double and even triple the growth in math proficiency than at comparable schools. ST Math is making a large-scale impact on students nationwide, helping them become better prepared for success in their school career.

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To add to the already successful ST Math program, MIND has recently received $3.2 million from The PwC Charitable Foundation Inc. to create a financial literacy program via game-based instructional software. The new math program will help 6th-8th grade students learn challenging concepts related to saving, investing, planning, purchasing a home, money management, and much more.

Their collaboration with researchers across the country to evaluate their impact and creative approach to teaching math, as well as the mechanisms associated with working memory and conceptual thinking and learning have helped ensure success of their programs and continued knowledge about the way students learn.

One Mission

It’s clear that MIND Research is revolutionizing math education through visual learning and they couldn’t do it without help from philanthropic partners like Cisco, Hyundai, Chevron, Boeing and Verizon.

Chief of Staff, Ingrid Ellerbe has great awareness about what’s required to obtain and continue philanthropic partnerships with large corporations. She will tell you that the ultimate measure of success is the expansion and/or replication of partnerships, and MIND has done just that. With their successful expansion initiatives, most recently in the form of their community and family-centered MathMINDs program, they’ve been able to replicate and scale in dozens of other metro areas and will be in Chicago later this year.

Everyone who works at MIND Research has a love for education and most importantly a love for math. This passion is evident from all and is definitely what has helped catapult their organization into success. Their mission is to ensure that all kids are mathematically equipped to solve the world’s most challenging problems, and they believe that every child has the potential to be a powerful learner and acquire the math proficiency and problem-solving skills needed to compete in our knowledge-based economy.

“The idea worth spreading here is that all students, not just those with special needs, can benefit profoundly from opportunities to learn without any words at all,” says Matthew Peterson, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer.

For More See:

MIND Research Institute is a Getting Smart Advocacy Partner.

Jessica Slusser

Jessica is the Senior Director of Impact at Getting Smart. She leads business development and growth of advocacy campaigns, advisory services, product development, marketing, and Getting Smart's blog. As part of her role, Jessica also oversees team events, conferences, and speaking engagements.

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