About Math Agent
Hi, thanks for taking the time to visit! My name is Timothy Charoenying. I first invented Math Agent almost 20 years ago, while working as a special education inclusion teacher in New York City Public Schools.
One of the strategies I used to motivate my students to learn arithmetic would be to use games involving dice or flashcards. While this worked for most of my students, I noticed that the games actually caused even more stress and anxiety for the students who were already struggling to learn. I suspected that the emphasis on mental speed as the criteria for competing was very intimidating for a student who already lacked confidence in their mathematical ability.
What surprised me however, was that my struggling students were very interested in games such as Magic the Gathering and the Pokemon trading card series. How could these kids learn very complex rules for these games, but not simple arithmetic?
Intrigued, I tried designing my own game system which combined arithmetic with the vocabulary and concepts required by the school curriculum. A key game mechanic was that it was turn-based and had an element of luck of the draw. This way, a student who was “weaker” in math could still play competitively with a “stronger” student, much like they could when playing the collectible card game systems.
The first incarnation of the game was printed on paper and glued to card stock. I realized I was onto something when one of my student’s didn’t bring the deck back to school because his father really got into playing it with him!
I didn’t know how to program back then so Math Agent remained a card game, and then life took me to University of California, Berkeley, where I would complete a doctorate in Mathematics education, have children of my own, and absorb myself in the business of life, holding a job, and raising a family.
Along the way, I picked up more design skills, learned to program, and made a few attempts at programming Math Agent over the years.
Finally, with a more mature skill set—and some pestering from my two children—I’m proud to present the latest version of the game – Math Agent versus Hedgehogs (long story short, we had a pet hedgehog…).
Hope you enjoy and please share with friends and family!