Special Needs Teacher Creates Affordable and effective Math Teaching Tool MathMitens

Special Needs Teacher Creates Affordable and effective Math Teaching Tool MathMitens What would you do if you got laid off because of budget cuts, and then fell and broke an elbow precluding you from finding a new job? Special Needs teacher of 30 years, Annie Hayes decided she would use convalescence to develop an idea she had for teaching math into a new product  and MathMitTENS was born. Before getting laid off, Annie taught math to middle school students. Many of her students had only basic math skills and were tactile learners, frustrated with paper and pencil tasks. I was teaching pre-algebra to learners who hadnt mastered many basic math facts, often leading to very frustrating moments. These children needed tools that they owned and that could give them some levity as well as answers.

Special Needs Teacher Creates Affordable and effective Math Teaching Tool MathMitens 

What would you do if you got laid off because of budget cuts, and then fell and broke an elbow precluding you from finding a new job? Special Needs teacher of 30 years, Annie Hayes decided she would use convalescence to develop an idea she had for teaching math into a new product – and MathMitTENS was born. 

Before getting laid off, Annie taught math to middle school students. Many of her students had only basic math skills and were tactile learners, frustrated with paper and pencil tasks. “I was teaching pre-algebra to learners who hadn’t mastered many basic math facts, often leading to very frustrating moments. These children needed tools that they owned and that could give them some levity as well as answers.” 

Annie came up with a hands-on-tool that worked consistently for kids who just hadn’t been able to grasp mathematical basics. Her vision also includes creating opportunities for learners to have educational resources used at home and in their out of school, play world, to become math literate. 
Annie’s invention generates the question of why there is so little effort in making effective teaching tools for children that are affordable and adaptable to their personal lives? Maybe MathMitTENS, once it becomes a tangible reality, will be such a tool. 

But how does an inexperienced entrepreneur with only a vision start a company? Annie decided she first needed to protect her idea so she went to the US Patent and Trademark Office website for a patent search and patenting information. She studied books, talked to lawyers and applied for patent pending status. While her years of teaching experience allowed her to explain her concepts vividly, she realized that having a physical model would be key to getting help to develop the product. For that step, Annie sought the help of the staff at the Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Center in Fall River, MA. Bernie Nolan, Staff electrical Engineer and his interns, Adam Carvalho and Chris Yafrate, helped develop the prototype Annie invented. At the UMASS School of Education, her invention and ideas for home math education were also warmly received and supported. The School suggested the best way to fund initial development of MathMiTENS was through a Small Business and Innovative Research (SBIR) Grant. With her elbow back in operation, Annie is again on the web learning about the SBIR application process and documenting research that backs up the effectiveness of her techniques. 

At the same time she is looking for manufacturers within the area who might want to join her in producing a fun, creative tool for all those kids studying math. 
For more information contact John Miller, Advanced Technology And Manufacturing Center, 151 Martine Street, Fall River, MA, 02723 voice: (508) 910-9800 ; fax: (508) 999-9120  


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