Yet another computer-based math system?

By Murray Bourne, 10 Jan 2008

The OCRegister's article Irvine man has kids loving math (the article has since disappeared, unfortunately) talks about the MIND Research Institute's ST Math Games program.

The background to this one is interesting. The founder of the program, Matthew Peterson, did not do well in school himself due to a problem with dyslexia.

His Flash based ST Math Games is largely 'language free' and aims at tweaking...

... spatial-temporal reasoning, the same reasoning used to learn music, to teach math concepts.

The process encourages students to visualise mathematical concepts (like adding fractions, solving equations) before they ever try to solve math problems using language, numbers or symbols.

The games revolve around the cartoon character Jiji, a penguin whose life is made easier when the student gets the problem correct.


There are similarities between this program and the approach taken in Singapore to teach the solution of simultaneous equations using visualisation by blocks.

ST Math Games is an interesting approach that is worth investigating. Apart from anything else, it does not insist that students start abstracting before they have a concrete understanding of concepts and it is catering for those who struggle with mathematics because of language issues.

See the 25 Comments below.

25 Comments on “Yet another computer-based math system?”

  1. Annette says:

    My daughter loves Jiji math. They instaled It at her school and she has been doing so much better in math. I give it two thumbs up!

  2. Murray says:

    Hi Annette and thanks for your input.

    Is your daughter a visual learner? That is, would she rather draw and look at pictures rather than read and write (verbal orientation)?

    I'm glad to hear that the concrete approach they are using helps.

  3. Colleen says:


    My Children use JiJi at school. Is this something I can purchase for home use? I would like to be able to enhance their learning by having the programs at home. If so, where is this available?

    Thanks very much,

    Colleen H.

  4. Murray says:

    Hi Colleen and thanks for your feedback.

    Their sales page [no longer available] lists some available items. There's also a Contact Us link on that page.

  5. Bernice H says:

    My son uses Jiji at school, and that is all he talks about, he loves it. I want to purchase it at home if that is possible. If my son is asking me for the program I'm impressed, because school never interested him a whole lot. Thank you so very much!! I am defenitly a Jiji fan!

    Bernice H

  6. Murray says:

    Thanks, Bernice. Seems like Jiji is getting some good reactions from students - and that's the most important endorsement.

  7. ALBERT says:


  8. Murray says:

    Hi Albert

    As mentioned earlier, their sales page used to list some available items. There was a "Request information" link on that page and also a "Contact Us" link, but no longer...

  9. kathy says:

    I went to the sales page . . . however, there is no information on whether I can purchase for home computer.

  10. Murray says:

    Hi Kathy

    On the Contact page I found this email:

    Hopefully they can help.

  11. olivia says:

    i play jiji at my school synergy and it is so much fun i've passed like 70000000000 level already so just wanted to tell u peolple out there.

  12. Andrew says:

    The ST Math program, featuring JiJi the penguin, is available only for use by schools. In the next release, due for the 2010/11 school year, students whose school uses the program will be able to access their student account, and teacher-assigned games from the program at home through an internet browser.

    Andrew Coulson
    President, Education Division
    MIND Research Institute

  13. Murray says:

    Thanks for the information, Andrew.

  14. aniaya smith says:

    Hi i am in the 4 grade and i get on jiji a lot i pass all my leves i am bad at math to and now i am geting the hang of it i just want you to no bye.

  15. EPD says:

    My daughter is in Kindergarten and Her class is allocated half an hour every Monday and Tuesday for Jiji. She loves the game, in particular, helping the penguin overcome math problems and obstacles. So do most of her classmates. She tells me she looks forward to Jiji every week. This is awesome. I can't wait till it is made available at home.

  16. File Folder Math Games says:

    After reading your blog I just thought that you may be interested in my File Folder Math Games that I give away for free. What you get is 20+ FREE Math Games (All of Volume 1 FREE)

    The games are geared towards 5th to 8th grade students.

  17. Mrs. B. says:

    My 6-year-old first grader just finished playing a marathon 2 hours of Jiji at home today, in order to get through as much as he can before the end of of the school year. (He also plays Jiji at school, of course.)

    Not only is he learning mathematical concepts (some for the first time), he's learning it by himself via trial and error and reaps much reward in the form of a little penguin who moves through doors and across ramps IF the child answers correctly.

    I can placate my son's constant request to play video games by steering him toward Jiji - so that speaks volumes about this game's level of engagement.

    I am so impressed by the Jiji program. I hope it aids in my son's progressive understanding of mathematics, especially since his school uses the controversial Everyday Math.

    I would pay good money for a home version of Jiji. (Our school's subscription ends at the end of the school year.)

  18. Dennis H. says:

    Every parent has access to Jiji at home. All you need to do is to get the "Activation Code" from your son/daughter's school. I am a Second Grade teacher. I have been using Jiji for about 5 years. The students love it and their understanding of math has definitely improved greatly.

  19. Dave M. says:

    Jiji math can be great, provided your child understands what the penguin is supposed to be doing. Because is mostly visual with no language cues, it is very possible to get 'stuck' trying to figure out what needs to be done on the current level. I strongly suggest parents of Jiji math students periodically do the exercises with their children so that they know their child isn't stuck - which is what happened to us for awhile until we stepped in and got things 'unstuck'.

  20. Parent doubter says:

    My first grade daughter's school has been using JiJi for 2 years and she IS NOT a fan! Other parents I have talked with say their kids don't like it either but they don't want to rock the boat at school. I disagree with the report that temporal spatial non language learning works for kids. It only works for a small population of them. Citing math test scores before and after JiJi is not proof they have learned mathematics!

  21. Unhappy parent with bored kid says:

    This may be good for children who are having difficulty in math, but for those that "get it," what a time-waster:( My daughter's school uses ST Math, and the concepts are NOT challenging to her, so she would like to speed Jiji through it, but the animations take too much time (I actually got frustrated watching it). Thanks ST Math for eating away time that could be better spent on other projects.

  22. Unsatisfied Student says:

    I am in 5th grade and I am NOT happy with Jiji. In fact, I have not heard of any single student at my school who likes it. Even the parents are not impressed with it. I do not think that I have learned anything over the 5 years I have been forced to play this disgusting excuse for a game. The only thing that comes even close to it's boring mind-numbness is math boxes. This is a penguin, and it can't even step over a tiny crack in a road when real penguins step over rocks and climb up steep hills every day. School would be fun, but Jiji has officially made it boring.

  23. Math Teacher says:

    The program is great and we are seeing a some increased levels. However we still have connectivity issues and the program can't be accessed offline. Also the passwords are to long. The students however love it.


  24. Heather says:

    Why not use blocks, puzzles and other objects students can play with to develop math skills? As a teacher, I'm concerned with schools mandating time on the computer. I'm concerned with elementary students using the computer when they could be manipulating objects.

  25. Murray says:

    @Heather: As a general rule, I agree that it is better for students to explore concepts with real objects.

    But computers have a huge advantage when it comes to giving immediate feedback - something that is not always possible at the individual level in large classrooms. Also, students can continue after school (with feedback) while there is no-one else to guide them.

    Like all things in education, a combination of both approaches is probably best.

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