Sunday, September 13, 2015

Stinky Kid Math - A TOS Crew Review

Review Crew
This summer the Schoolhouse Review Crew asked me if I would like to review a new math product by Stinky Kid Math. We're studying Algebra 2, and Stinky Kid Math presents Algebra in a different kind of way to help students understand the concept of "isolating the variable". I'm always looking for new math helps for my student, so I thought, "Sure. Why not!" I asked for the product and received a six-month subscription in return for my honest review.

Stinky Kid Math covers concepts of pre-Algebra, foundational Algebra, Advanced Algebra and Geometry, and also provides games to help reinforce concepts. It presents its ideas in an engaging way that I think will probably appeal to middle school students, and if they start with Stinky Kid Math in middle school they will probably still like Stinky Kid Math as they get into higher math concepts.

By learning the "Stinky Kid Method", kids learn about isolating the variable using different terminology. The "Stinky Kid" is the "variable". The student watching the video learns that the terms around "Stinky" want to get away from him, beginning with the terms farthest away, then each closer term until "Stinky" stands alone. Watch the sample video at this link to understand the origins and reasons behind the program's name. Stinky Kid Math is intended to be a supplement, to help students understand concepts. It is not a complete curriculum.

Our own math program is at a transition point, right now, transitioning from Algebra I to Algebra II. (Many schools progress through their high school math program in the order of Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II. I chose to go in the order of Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry. Math course order is not the topic of this blog entry, though, so I provided that, without reasons why, just for your information.)

The Stinky Kid topics are labelled "Foundational Algebra (pre-Algebra, Algebra I)" and "Complex Algebra (Algebra I & Algebra II)", so there was a certain amount of watching that needed to be done just to figure out where we would plug in. This viewing time is not "wasted time", it is time becoming familiar with the Stinky Kid Method, and time spent reinforcing previously taught concepts.

I was surprised, during the viewing of "Complex Algebra", to learn some things I myself did not know:
  • the definition of "term"s in equations;
  • the definition of "polynomial", "quadratic", "functions" (and graphing them), and "composite functions";
  • equations that aren't polynomials because of a variable as the denominator;
  • "degrees of polynomials";
  • what it looks like when you graph various degrees of polynomials.
I was reminded of what a parabola is. My brain was refreshed in terms: coefficient, variable, base, exponent, etc. It was intriguing to learn about writing the function in the format of "f(5)=98" is a way to easily show that in the function x=5 and y=98.

Certain sections of Stinky Kid Math has worksheets connected to each video, but much of the material in Complex Algebra does not. Most of the videos have a button for "Games" connected to them, but not worksheets. The concepts are taught, and then the student practices the concepts within his normal Algebra curriculum.

The top of each page of Stinky Kid Math has a header bar with an option to go to a page that gives you a summary of the student's activity log, which can be pretty helpful to the parent. Any time you're wondering what the student should have viewed recently you can click that, then go to the recent lesson (short, 4 minute or so lessons), and review it with your student.

The basic concept of the Stinky Kid introduces the program initially, but then, from what I saw, is not a major part of the program. Mostly it seems to be a concept, a gimmick, to make Stinky Kid Math stand out and be different from other math programs, and a way to help students understand the concept of isolating the variable. It will appeal to some kids. It totally alienated my student, whose response was, "Is it saying that I am a stinky kid? I'm not a stinky kid!" and then refusal to give the program a chance.

I still plan to try to sneak a video in for viewing any time I think the different video explanation might be easier to understand than the textbook we are using, but it was certainly disappointing to me how just quickly my student was offended by the name of the program and how unwilling he became to cooperate and watch videos once that had happened. So, I understand what the creator(s)'s reasons were for the name, but I wish they had thought of something else to call it. I think it is a really good supplement for explaining upper level maths -- concise, clear explanation videos. If you don't understand something, watching the video again helps.

There was no time during my use of the program where I needed help, but there is a "Contact Us" button always at the bottom of the page, if at any time the user needs to contact the folks at Stinky Kid Math. Any questions?

Other members of the Review Crew also reviewed this product. To see other reviews of Stinky Kid Math, please click the button below.
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