Monday, July 21, 2014

EDUCATION: Metro Detroit's Circuit Math uses Fun, Games and Cows to Teach Kids useful Math Skills

Disclosure: I attended a FREE 1-hour introductory Circuit Math session with my son. I was chosen for this sponsored opportunity by Hay There Social Media...

Circuit Math brings Math Skills to life for Metro Detroit kids Grades 3rd thru 9th ...

My son just graduated from middle school a few weeks ago. As I sat waiting for the graduation ceremony to start, I hoped my son would receive at least one award since he had worked very hard during the school year and had especially excelled in Math.

So I was super excited and chapping with joy when my son received the last and biggest award of the graduation ceremony -  a special President's Award (signed by President Barack Obama) in recognition for my son's high MAT score and achieving a 4.0 grade point average - HOLLA!!!

Me, my son with the Presidents's Award for his Math score, and his former teacher...
My son has always been good at Math - especially with memorizing and applying formulas. But I have always wondered if he is as good at applying math skills to real life situations.  After all, what good is it to great at advanced math  if you cannot balance a checkbook or figure out if you have enough gas in your car's tank to make it to your final destination.

That is why this summer, I took my son to open his own bank account so he can learn first hand about compound interest and delayed gratifcation  (i.e. leaving his money in the bank to grow instead of spending it all on video games).

And I took him to try out a FREE introductory math tutoring class taught by a new local metro Detroit business called Circuit Math.

My son and Circuit Math owner Maggie Durant...
How does Circuit Math work?

Circuit Math is an innovative way to do Math Tutoring that is based on the same concept of circuit training that is used to make physical exercise less repetitive and bring about results in less time than traditional methods.

With Circuit Math, children spend a 1 hour session going through different math stations involving playing sports, creating businesses, and working with design and architecture so that kids can apply math skills in the areas that are interesting to them.

A student's sweet spots and areas of improvement are identified during a pre-assesment known as a COW - Competency Of the Week. (COW is definnitely a much more fun term than test, don't you think?) COW's are tracked on each student's "Dashboard" showing red, yellow, or green.

The 1st circuit station involves math instruction using iPads and laptops. Kids get to pick if they want to sit at the table or use a beanbag and this circuit is 20 minutes long with the instruction being individualized to each student based on their "COW" dashboard color.

Sports and Math do go together....
Kids then move on to the other circuit stations.  One of the stations is a store front where students can learn math by running the store which involves buying inventory and setting item prices. Another circuit station is a room where the kids work together as a group to design the room using their math skills. And another station is all about sports and how math plays into baseball, basketball, darts, ring toss, golf, and bean bag toss.  So if a student is working on factions, they may be figuring out the faction of shots that hit the rim to the the shots that went in the basket. Other kids could figure out how to calculate a baseball player's ERA.

The last part of the circuit is the "COW" ceremony and recognition. When a student scores 75% or higher on the area that a student is focusing on that day, then they get a COW (the moo kind) sticker for their dashboard that can be traded in for prizes.

Circuit Math owner Maggie Durant with the Dashboards and COW rewards...
Not all kids will get a COW - they have to earn them...

"Some days they get them and some days you don't," says Circuit Math owner Maggie Durant on students and COW stickers. "And so it really starts to mean stuff to the kids because they have to work for them.. and they want their COW."  COW's can be traded for something as simple as a pencil or saved up for great prizes like full size footballs and soccer balls.

"The whole goal is to bring math to life, see how it's used day to day and really make it fun to be here" says Circuit Math owner Maggie Durant..

While my son worked one-on-one with one of the Circuit Math instructors, I had a chance to speak one-on-one with Circuit Math owner, Maggie Durant.

FIML: How long have you been in business?
Maggie: This is our first space.  We have been partnering with schools mainly in the city of Detroit to work with 1st thru 9th graders on math and reading for the last 14 months. But this space is dedicated to math.

FIML: Why did you open this space?
Maggie: It's all been the same concept of helping the kids make progress, measuring it with data, focusing on the basics and application.  We are able to do a lot of more fun application here in our own space than we can when we go into someone else's classroom.

FIML: Is each session 10 weeks long?
Maggie: You buy a 10 pack which is ten 1 hour long sessions and parents get to pick and choose the days and times to use them based on your schedule.  For the summer, there are only morning sessions. But in the fall, Circuit Math will be shifting into an after school and weekend schedule.

My Perspective on Circuit Math...

Overall, I really love Maggie's Circuit Math idea.  Since my son and I stopped by Maggie's Bingham Farms location in the evening after I got off of work, there were no kids there for my son to interact with. But he still had fun working with the instructor and we had a hard time getting him out of the building because he wanted to finish the math sheet that he had been working on for an hour.

Since my son is highly competitive, I can see him loving the whole "COW reward" system and working hard to earn a COW sticker so he could earn prizes.   I also really love the concept of teaching math skills by having the kids run a business store front.

If classes were offered in the evenings over the summer, I would see this as a way for my son to spend time working on his math skills - and having fun at the same time.  Also I would love to see the classes offered in 4 pack for $100, which I think is a much more affordable introductory option, in addition to the 10 pack for $250.

You can find out more about Circuit Math, and signup to attend a FREE 1-hour introductory session, over on their website at and on their Facebook Page at

Circuit Math
30300 Telegraph, Suite #230, South of 13 Mile Road
North entrance of the building, 2nd floor
Bingham Farms, MI


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