HERE AT MY house we’re in the midst of SAT season and an unlikely saviour has emerged: . This will be the second go-round for my oldest son, and among the areas that could use a little polishing up is math. Last year I helped him drill using one of those big old test prep math books. The one we had came with little punch out flash cards, the same kind that came with his first-grade reading workbooks only with longer words. So much for 12 years of growth and maturity.
This year, a comment on a homeschooling high schoolers message board reminded me of the website . It works like this: You answer math questions, with the score tallied in points. When you reach a certain score, the sponsors of MathGoats donate a goat to a family in need.
This simple yet clever site was created in August 2018 by computer programmer Ben Willox and Michael Klein. According to an interview with Forbes, Willox actually developed the site when he wanted to help some students he was tutoring study for a calculus exam.
How effective is Math Goats at providing aid to starving people? Well, its donated 13,547 goats to date. Over the site’s existence, the amount of points earned per correct answer has gone up and down with goat prices and advertising revenue. The site hit its high this year after introducing strict protocols to identify bots (there are now strict measures in place to identify and stop automated answers).
And how is it at improving math skills? Klein told Forbes that schools partnered with Math Goats have had their students’ math skills “improved markedly.” Personally, my family has found that we quickly get up to levels where the math questions need calculus skills to solve (throwback to derivatives and Calc I). The site plans to add additional deep-dives into specific math topics such as trigonometry, and vector calculus.
I’ve used the website with all my kids. First we decide how difficult the problem is, can we solve it in our heads? We either copy down the problem and attempt to work it out by hand or time ourselves and use mental math to guess the answer. This has led us on some fun digressions as we’ve aimed to find ways to improve our mental math and memorization. As you get questions correct, your level is automatically adjusted and you start getting harder and harder questions. I find that personally I max out at around a Grade 11 level, but the hope is that my kids will soon surpass me.
In the meantime, I’m satisfied knowing that my kids are getting better at math and making an impact in the world.
Math goats is available here: