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University of Central Florida News 12-17-2008

Page history last edited by Dr. Ron Eaglin 13 years, 8 months ago

This originally was at UCF News Site



Engineering Professor's New Card Game Inspires Kids to Learn and Enjoy Math

Editor's Note: To try a demonstration of the game, go to www.pyramath.com and click on "5 Card Pyramath" under the "Play Pyramath Online" section.

ORLANDO, Dec. 17, 2008 -- When his two young children struggled to understand multiplication, University of Central Florida engineering professor Ron Eaglin gave them typical paper and computer math drills to help them improve.

Unfortunately, the drills failed miserably, as his children saw them as punishment and had little enthusiasm for learning.

Believing a more entertaining approach might work better, he designed a card game that has helped his children learn math while having fun. His game has been so successful that, only a few months after he developed it, school teachers in Central Florida are using the game -- called Pyramath -- in their classrooms.

Teachers say their students can't get enough of the game and that it helps to teach critical math concepts that are part of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

At first glance, the simple, low-tech game does not seem to fit with Eaglin's career as an Engineering Technology professor. But Eaglin and K-12 teachers hope the game will inspire more young people to learn and not give up on math in the early grades, making it more likely that they will pursue careers in science, math or engineering once they reach high school and college.

"If we can catch them at this age level loving math and understanding it, their love of math will follow them into their future," said Mary Timmerman, a fifth-grade teacher at Sterling Park Elementary School in Casselberry. "We've got to get them hooked now."

Each of the 54 cards in the Pyramath deck includes a number from 0 to 9. Players use addition, subtraction, multiplication or division to build a pyramid of cards, and the first player to complete a pyramid wins.

"You're not really thinking that you're drilling the math into your head," said Eaglin. "You are just playing the game and having fun."

Eaglin said his children -- Catherine, 11, and Anna, 10 -- enjoy trying to beat him at the game, and sometimes they do because of their vastly improved multiplication and division skills.

Timmerman said that after she introduced Pyramath to her students, they immediately wanted to play the game at home in addition to during class. They also eagerly started using the cards on their own to learn about fractions.

"We try to make math fun and exciting because kids don’t like math," she said. "How can you make it more fun and exciting? You make it more like a game. Their math skills are getting better. Students in one class didn’t know their multiplication tables, and now this is helping them with those tables."

Pyramath can help children hone their foreign language skills in addition to math. Each card includes Spanish, Chinese, French and Arabic translations of the number listed and a Roman numeral.

Eaglin partnered with Dean Monaco to produce the Pyramath cards. Monaco is helping with business aspects of the venture such as management and marketing. The cost is $6.95 per deck, and teachers receive discounts for ordering multiple decks.

At UCF, Eaglin's classes and research focus on database and software systems, Geographic Information Systems and crime analysis. He helped to create the FINDER database that now allows more than 110 law enforcement agencies throughout the country to share information with each other. That system is one of the largest of its kind in the country. Prior to coming to UCF, Eaglin spent six years in the Navy as an instructor at the Naval Nuclear Power School.

In his spare time, Eaglin is an adventure racer who hikes and bicycles through rough terrain and thick forests and paddles through rapids. He competes in races throughout the country, and his children also enjoy the sport. Eaglin blogs about his adventure racing at http://eaglinar.blogspot.com.

For more information on Pyramath or to purchase decks, go to http://www.pyramath.com.

-- UCF --


Ron Eaglin, 407-823-5937 office, 407-497-9213 cell, reaglin@mail.ucf.edu

Chad Binette, News and Information, 407-823-6312, cbinette@mail.ucf.edu

UCF Stands For Opportunity: The University of Central Florida is a metropolitan research university that ranks as the 6th largest in the nation with more than 50,000 students. UCF's first classes were offered in 1968. The university offers impressive academic and research environments that power the region's economic development. UCF's culture of opportunity is driven by our diversity, Orlando environment, history of entrepreneurship and our youth, relevance and energy. For more information, visit http://news.ucf.edu.


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