Most people who are involved in education and have studied educational psychology know the name, Jean Piaget. Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, defined and described stages of development: sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational and formal operational. Many math curriculum materials are designed to fit with these developmental stages that roughly correspond to age groups: sensorimotor (0-2), pre-operation stage (2 to 7), concrete operational (7 to 11), and formal operational (11+ and adulthood). The availability of computers and educational software may have shifted some of these age groupings toward the younger ages since very young children are often using iPads and other devices to explore and learn concepts with assistance of highly interactive educational games and experiences. Apps can be very engaging and often create multimedia learning environments that motivate students through positive reinforcements such as praise, points, stars, trophies or virtual stickers.

The manipulative approach to teaching math is based on the cognitive development theories of Piaget, Bruner and others. Software designed to support these theories, for example my Hands-On Math Series, brings the manipulative approach to the computer screen by creating interactive representations of mathematical objects. Math Decoder is designed in a similar way so that the student is able to move numbered tokens into place to show his or her answer.

Math Decoder presents random numbers in a grid that is similar to the familiar tic-tac-toe board. Problems are given using shapes that reference the position of the numbers in the grid. To give an answer students must determine which numbers are referenced by the shapes and then perform the arithmetic operation.

Using Math Decoder helps build mental math skills. It involves abstract thinking because the symbols are used to represent numbers in way that is similar to how variables are used in algebra. I designed Math Decoder to be a quick exercise that teachers and parents can assign to students when they have a few minutes of time. Challenge students to earn a trophy. It’s fun!

Math Decoder is available with a volume discount for educational institutions. Algebra Portal AR can be purchased worldwide exclusively through the Apple App Store. It also available through Apple’s volume purchase program. Schools get a significant discount when purchasing multiple copies of Algebra Portal AR. Contact Apple Education for more information about the volume purchase program. Please visit Ventura Educational Systems’ website for more information about this and other iOS and tvOS apps for education.