It can be difficult to excel in your education when external support is inaccessible – an issue faced by many middle school students aged 11-14. This can lead to stress, anxiety, and a lack of self-confidence. Inspired by my own personal struggles and experiences, I struck upon the idea of creating an app that could ease such difficulties and actually make learning fun. I am hoping that my app, MathZAP, can bridge the academic support gap for interested learners, like myself.
I can vividly recall when I was in the 6th grade I felt I wasn’t taking my education as seriously as I should and I wanted to start giving my best efforts. My school offered a higher-level Math course for each grade, but I had never been in that placement. And whenever my friends would ask “Are you in math 6+?,” I was always embarrassed by my negative response. I felt I was not on par with my peers. But a big issue I was facing was that I had no idea how to get into 6+. All my closest friends had already been in the “+ track” in previous years, and I felt asking them too many questions would make me look naive.
In the summer after 6th grade, I studied the units required to get into math 7+, and I got in! When I did, I was so excited about my achievement and confident about my abilities to excel. I must admit I was fortunate to have my teacher’s support, as well as my dad’s. They helped me understand the provided materials in a deeper way.
Soon after being in the 7+ class, I noticed not only a big change in the teaching speed, but also a greater degree of difficulty in the content. Because everyone else had already been in this class – working at this pace for a year prior – I quickly felt as though I was lagging behind. I needed to push myself further in order to keep pace with the other students in the class.
Though my math skills started to improve, I still had issues finding easy and accessible resources that covered the units for better understanding or extra work. My search for “Middle school math work” on Google, the App Store, or anywhere else never gave me satisfactory results and I never found what I was looking for. In fact, it left me more confused! If I did find something related to the subject content, it never really helped my understanding or practice – and even worse was the fact it was paid for. I didn’t want to pay for something solely because it was the only thing I could find. So I settled for the tasks I was given at school, even though they just didn’t seem to be “enough” and I was looking for more motivation. I began to realize that this is likely a dilemma faced by countless other students like myself, and that’s how the idea of MathZAP was born.
I realised that the transition to middle school comes with many more responsibilities and is an important moment in kids’ lives. These responsibilities also come with a fair amount of stress, whether it be the fear of lagging behind, not knowing what to do next, or simply not understanding the content. It’s even harder for the students who can’t find the support that they need whether from school or at home.
In this position, I wanted everyone to be able to improve and really understand the math they were learning, especially in a fun way. I know that not everyone has the time, resources, or access to tutors to help them study one-on-one. So this inspired me to design an easy-to-use math app for middle school students. With MathZAP I hope to provide an easy shortcut of the best math sets to help students reach their full potential! When you see math apps targeted at younger kids, they are designed with fun monsters and vibrant colours. Apps made for high school students contain black and white flashcards that make learning math demotivating and tedious. What I have found is that middle school ends up being a neglected area. In designing my app, I am aiming to include bright colours and fun graphics, but with significant and relevant content.
My app is currently in the development process, but my plan is easy to follow:
When you open the app for the first time and create an account, you can take a diagnostic test. This consists of basic questions from each of the units I’ve chosen to start with. This will then assess what units you have locked down, are a little confused by, or are struggling in.
These results will then be stored in a “For You” tab where you will have a to-do list of units and problem sets waiting for you.
There will also be a collaborative discussion page where students or teachers can provide feedback, suggest new units, or upload work they have done in class that they deem fit or that is beneficial to other students on the platform.
The last tab planned for my app is a “Printables” page where I will design my own fun math puzzles and worksheets that are downloadable and can be worked on either in classes or at home.
In the future, I not only hope to include more math units but also to venture into higher grades and potentially even other subjects, such as History, English, and Science.
In using MathZAP, I hope Middle school students needing support and review can feel inspired like I did when I was struggling. I hope to make the middle school math community a less intimidating, more accessible place, and to make the experience of studying math easier.
Lookout for my App on the iOS App Store and on Google Play, coming soon!