Elephant Learning: Empowering Children with Math

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think” – a quote by Margaret Meed, rightfully sums up the current issue that pertains to the world education system. It’s a mystery how the world sank into the entire conundrum of confusing intelligence with higher grades, a notion that today stands as a norm and has seeped deep into the mentality of masses. “Every student learns at his own pace and that’s something which needs to be acknowledged and nourished,” says Dr. Aditya Nagrath, Co-founder of Elephant Learning. He believes that with humanity’s transcendence to create an advanced civilization on top of its technological prowess, the nescience of the very fundamentals of the modern technologies is still highly disregarded.“The fundamentals of mathematics, define the core of every science a student undertakes in his academic life, however mathematics is highly undermined despite of its known importance”. The answer cannot be uprooting and revamping the entire education system. This institutionalized culture of forsaking the conceptual understanding of mathematics right at the beginning needs to be reformed at the root level. And what could be a better place to start than the primary education?

According to the Dr. Nagrath’s extensive research in the subject, 4 out of 5 children enter kindergarten unprepared for the curriculum. Consequently, they succumb to memorizing rather and omitting understanding the concepts altogether. Eventually this makes it difficult for them to comprehend algebra which leads to issues learning advanced topics such as calculus, trigonometry and linear algebra which are the foundation upon which technology and sciences are built on top.

The idea really is to empower children with mathematics, it’s not just about having an amazing platform, or software, what we strive for is the result

Indeed, 3 out of 4 children are not proficient at high school mathematics. And so at higher level, advanced problem solving skills, reasoning and sciences stroll further away from the reach.

Approaching this challenge from early age, Dr. Nagrath teamed up with a mathematics professor at University of Denver, Dr. Alvaro Arias, to create Elephant Learning. Funded by National Science Foundation and Toyota Foundation, Elephant Learning was incepted in labs of University of Denver through advanced mathematical research. The math learning platform was fabricated on top of algorithms that could quickly determine a child’s ability to comprehend within a complex curriculum. The system uses gamification through multiple characters to provide learning that is developmentally appropriate and customized for each child. The core idea behind the platform is to feed the right activity to the child at the right time. The Elephant Learning system breaks down the fundamental concepts of mathematics into activities and puzzles written by early age education experts to enable experiential learning for children that stimulates their cognitive skills.
Through these activities students could not only learn the basic concepts but also to thrive in the classroom environment.

“On average, children within our system learn 1.5 years of math in 10 weeks if they use the system 30 minutes per week,” Dr. Nagrath says, “but what is really astounding is that we consistently have 4 and 5 year olds that achieve to multiplication, division and fractions. I do not believe algebra is out of their reach.” Illustrating one such experience where Elephant Learning helped a child to recover, Dr. Nagrath shares the story of a young girl who was falling behind her classmates, struggling with arithmetic calculations. With the help of Elephant Learning’s analytics, not only did Dr. Nagrath help her parents to identify and guide her in her weak areas, but also enabled her to recover to her grade levelat an astounding pace.

“The idea really is to empower children with mathematics, it’s not just about having flashy games or sophisticated software, what we want are measurable results,” adds Dr. Nagrath, “Empowerment is understanding the concepts that allow us to pursue our endeavors, enjoyment in a classroom setting is understanding the teacher.” Elephant Learning has formed alliance with a non-profit organization known as Math Matters to provide scholarships for underserved children that lag behind their funded peers by as much as 3 years. Math Matters uses cause marketing to bring awareness to the importance of mathematics for children and to provide scholarships to children.

Currently with its existing model, the Elephant Learning platform spans to cover the concepts of percentages, decimals and fractions with plans to dramatically expand their curriculum into middle school during FY 2018.