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Mastering mathematics with Math-Ace

Written by: FMT | 04 May 2021 13:11
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Written by:
04 May 2021 13:11
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Two years ago, Gregory Dennis quit his job in graphics design at a publishing company to go freelance, but the competitive job market proved to be a challenge.

When Covid-19 hit in 2019, things got bad for the 59-year-old, who has been in the industry since the 1990s.

“I was already out of the job market,” he told FMT. He said he had become “too old”, and project developers were looking for younger people.

Dennis, who has always had a love for design, used to create edutainment programmes for children in the late 90s, when CD-ROMs were the trending new tech.

He said his team in a company called Articulate Designs pioneered interactive and colourful games that ran on computers, training children’s memory and skills in subjects such as mathematics and English.

Many of his award-winning CD-ROM titles were sold in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, countries in the Middle East and other places.

But, he said, much had changed since his glory days, with children choosing mobile and tablet screens over interactive and informative games.

Furthermore, with the pandemic affecting his job opportunities, he quickly found himself in a slump.

But one day late last year, he had an eureka moment when he sat down to help his 11-year-old son with his IGCSE maths homework. It forced him to look for ways to make the process more fun.

“I burned the midnight oil, looked at some of my past work and kept on tweaking them until – boom – I got it.”

The outcome was a question-based maths board game for children, designed to help them improve their memory retention and math skills.


Image from FMT

He saw the marketing potential of his design since it could be adapted to fit different subjects and age groups, and went on to refine his prototype for the next five months, reviewing the questions in his son’s textbooks and drawing the graphics himself.

After going to the printers for his first design, Dennis went on to get feedback from headmasters, teachers and other educationists and experts. “They all thought it would be a hit.”

With the help of his brother, he uploaded a video presentation of his idea on the reward.pitchin.my crowdfunding platform, where friends, family and strangers raised a total of RM23,000, so he could manufacture the board game.

The trivia game accommodates two to six players who take turns rolling a dice and then move around the board with a token.

A player moves a token to land on a colour-coded square. After that, he has to pull a question card from four different categories.

The game, called Math-Ace, is meant for children aged eight to 12. It asks 200 questions, which all have to do with required knowledge in the subject.

“For math, there are questions about addition, subtraction, mixed numbers, fractions, decimals, geometry, problem solving and others.”

The player who collects the most points from the most number of correct answers wins the game.

After printing his board game, Dennis went on to distribute copies to the less fortunate, visiting eight orphanages in the Klang Valley.

“When I crowdfunded to manufacture the board game, the funders said they wanted me to give them to the needy,” he said.

“These children live very rigid lives. They wake up as early as 4.30am. Then they go to school. They really look forward to things like this.”

Through his experience with the orphans, Dennis found that the game was able to foster togetherness, with the children working with one another to answer the questions.

He now plans to adapt the game to different age groups and subjects as well as to different languages.

“I’ve just done math and, to me, this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

He welcomes funding from companies for outreach programmes with more homes and orphanages.

Orphanages wishing to participate may contact him at +60 12 325 5032.

The board games are currently available for sale on his website, http://www.aceadvancegames.com/

 

This article first appeared on FMT.

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