Me: Tell me about your project.
Jeffrey: My project is a new type of curriculum. It's completely interactive and has instant feedback, which is really good for learning, and it's something that kids really enjoy using. It's the same math content that you'd get in a textbook, but it has all these other features that psychology tells us are really great for learning. It encourages persistence, and does mastery based learning, which means it can tell when your child has mastered a particular skill set, and encourages them to go on to the next one.
Me: It kind of looks like Pokemon. I don't know a whole lot about Pokemon, but it reminds me of it.
Jeffrey: That's exactly what I was going for. Most parents don't know a whole lot about Pokemon, but they know that their kids like it, and the kids have made that connection as well. One of them actually said it was more fun than Pokemon, which was "success". I asked, "Are you sure? Can I quote you on that?"
Me: How can people get involved?
Jeffrey: Right now, the kindergarten curriculum is completely free. A kindergartner, precocious preschooler, or first-grader who doesn't like math can go and play it. Please offer me feedback. I'll have the first grade curriculum out by the end of this year, and it's going to be $30 for the numbers portion, which is place value, skip-counting, and more advanced addition and subtraction.
Me: So are you charging a yearly fee, or do you buy it and have it forever?
Jeffrey: They have it forever for that child's account. In order to keep track of how the students are learning, and customize it to them, each child would need their own account. Another huge advantage of my curriculum is that errors are corrected immediately. If something is too hard, or out of order, it gets fixed. Even if a problem isn’t bad enough that someone calls about it, I can still see from the data problems like people having a harder time picking up a certain math skill. So I can make a change like offering a different explanation, or putting an intermediate skill right before it to bridge the gap. At the start, Math Monsters will be the most fun math curriculum available, but over time it will also become the best.
Me: What makes it special? How is it different from other math games, and what is your competitive advantage?
Jeffrey: In a traditional math curriculum, you read an explanation in a book, then you have a set of problems, and you do them. You look at the back, and you see if you got them right or wrong. If you need more practice, maybe you buy another math book? If you mastered it very quickly, you're pretty bored the whole time. And if you're behind, then you're frustrated. Even if you're in the middle of the bell curve, you don't know what you got right or wrong until the very end. That makes it very difficult to learn, because your mistake is separated from the correction of the mistake. You're never able to connect the thought process you were going through when you made the mistake with the correction of it.
Math Monsters fixes that because it has immediate feedback. You submit the problem, and it immediately tells you whether you got it right or wrong. You get a little reward hit if you get it right, or a very small miss. The game has puzzles, which are math-based in increasing difficulty, and surrounding that, you have your meta game, which is making your monster stronger, and competing in battles. You have a 5-30 second loop of doing the puzzle, then you have a 30 second to three minute loop of doing the battle. You have your longer loop of training the monster and going through stages.
Sometimes you have to fight multiple monsters in a row, and it gets harder. It's like a mini test. But it's never structured as a test, because even if you fail, you always get another chance. And that's another reason why Math Monsters is better than traditional math worksheets, because in a worksheet, there's always a fear that you're going to fail and this will affect your grade. Being in a state of fear is not a great way to learn. In Math Monsters, all failure is temporary. All success is permanent.