Jeb Pavleas and Jack Chang were were the programmers of the application. Professor Robin Angotti was the idea originator and Professor Kelvin Sung served as a mentor throughout development. As a math teacher myself, I was thrilled to see a submission that had real classroom relevancy. This last weekend while working with the “Kinect in Education” team in Washington, DC, Robin had me demo the application in front of everyone. The experience was kinesthetic learning at its best. In case this is your first time to hear about “Kinect Math,” here is the video produced describing their project:
The team chose to use Microsoft’s Kinect sensor because it provided the ability to explore a Natural User Interface with mathematics. Additionally, they could leverage the speech recognition technology to reach an an audience that may be less technical.
In a document outlining the project’s overview, Jeb Pavleas revealed that “our goal with Kinect Math is to give educators the ability to reengage struggling math students by getting them physically involved with the abstract math concepts. They hope that math teachers with access to a Kinect will integrate Kinect Math into their lesson plan and give students have a chance to learn from non-traditional methods in addition to the textbook. Kinesthetic learning (learning by carrying out a physical activity) has a place in the education system and should be explored.
Additionally, they hope that by releasing this as open source software that it will be added to and improve upon with other people’s ideas. Being physically disabled, Jeb’s experiences with Kinect Math has cultivated an interest in him to continue exploring alternative methods for controlling the computer with Kinect. Hopefully, other people can improve on the code to continue building life-changing applications.
Since the Kinect was released, Jack Chang always has had an interest in using the device to improve people’s lives. Jack grew up an avid gamer; like many of our students today, Jack loved playing games more than reading dry textbooks and listening to tedious lectures (right there with you, Jack!). Jack despised it so much that it resulted in him giving up his high school education.
But then, Jack realized that playing video games all day wasn’t going to lead him anywhere. So, he asked himself “why not make learning just as fun as playing games?” This thought served as the catalyst to bring him back into the classroom; he dedicated himself to the pedagogy of making learning more enjoyable and then applying what he learned.
The $500 contest award is being donated to Professor Kelvin Sung’s class in the CSS department at the University of Bothell, which is expected to be used for purchasing more Kinects for students to experiment with.
The team is expecting to have a completed release version by the end of December 2011. As they observe the end users, they’ll keep working on the next version from January to March.
Here are some thoughts from our judges:
““I really enjoyed the way this app was used for math lessons and showed how to involve the whole class. For example, students could create word problems and work them out. Just by tweaking this app I could see potentials for use in science, chemistry, health, math, physics, and biology.” Shelly Terrell
"I love that this was in math class and that included perspectives from teachers and students. This idea not only makes the concepts of math more comprehensible; it transforms the attitudes of how learners can perceive math. Love it!- Angela Maiers
This is an excellent specific use of Kinect for targeting math standards. I see a definitive connection from the learning and the technology being used! – Andrew Miller
“I became an English teacher for more than one reason. I too had an aversion to Math. This Kinect application makes learning math much more fun. I was impressed with the voice interaction as well as the ‘players’ working in pairs. This seemed to be addressing real world issues as well. I believe this application could be beneficial in using our body to uncover the meaning of graphs and measurements in all areas of life (e.g. politics, finances, etc.) Another great project. – Kelly Croy
“I see great possibilities for uses and extensions of this app! Even the simplicity of adding movement to learn about the concept of graphing suddenly adds a new dimension to Math education that would appeal to learners of various ages, in particular those who struggle with the traditional “text book” approach. “ – Lucy Barrow
Congratulations team! We’re all very excited to see how this project evolves and where it takes classrooms. Learn all about their project by accessing their information sheet here.
For those new to KinectEDucation, the mission of KinectEDucation is to provide free resources for educators to drive innovation into their classrooms. If you want to be a part of this initiative, join us; we’d love to have your voice!