When I meet people at conference, local events and mention our apps, I often get asked why I created them. Here’s my story.
I am not an app developer, or an educator by profession. I am trained to be an engineer, and then an MBA, and I worked in strategy consulting and banking in highly analytical jobs. And I loved them for many reasons, one of which is how much problem solving and innovation was needed on a daily basis and how much of an impact I could have because of it. Having always loved puzzles and board games, they were a natural fit.
Fast forward to when I had kids, and got increasingly involved in their education. I loved the Montessori schools that my children went. They follow the children’s interests in a structured and safe environment, and helped them build a broad array of skills, independence and concentration. While doing that, they taught my older one, a girl, the concepts of math upto division by the time she was 6.
Getting her to learn math after the Montessori environment was not as easy, and of course being an engineer mom, I wanted her to be good and like it. When she was in 2-3rd grade, we tried doing math operation practice with some creative rewards (e.g. the answers could be put together to create a picture etc.) And we tried some well known math books and online programs. They were dull and boring and she was least interested in doing it. And I really wanted her to like what she did, not just do it because I told her to.
Along the way, I bought her some logic puzzles books. And I would find her solving them for hours on end, and loving it. And to my surprise, she was doing some that I would find hard. And that was my moment of epiphany. It showed me that she could do pretty hard problem solving even at that age, and that this was the way to help her build those skills while she was still learning the math operations that are needed as a foundation for mathematical problem solving.
As a lucky chance, I also discovered some puzzle board games by Michel Lyons, and his math books for elementary schools that have whole sections on logic. He has the same philosophy of approaching math through concepts, and problem solving and his books do a stellar job of that. He’s been doing it for over 30 years in Canada, which interestingly scores very high on the PISA test.
We partnered to create LogicCity Jr for elementary school kids to develop deep problem solving skills even before they master all of the mathematical operations. It’s been a labor of love as I re-taught myself programming after many many years. It took a year to get the first one published.
And then we developed the advanced version, LogicCity, in which we managed to create some very challenging puzzles that even adults find both fun and challenging. Although middle school kids can sometimes do better at them than adults 🙂 It took another 6 months to get the second one out the door. And I continue to learn about gamification in education, user experience to make it seamless, and how to do better graphics etc.
Both apps have won some awards, and that has been very encouraging. We are still waiting to see if enough parents and teachers will choose to get them for their children, and if we should continue to build more. So dear reader, that is your decision to make.