The TenTiles is a first-years project at the faculty of Industrial Design at the University of Technology Eindhoven. The project members are Sebastiaan Alferink, Stijn Hunfeld, Robin van Kampen and Koert Mulders. The project coach is Kees Overbeeke.
What is the TenTiles?
The TenTiles is a device which allows teachers to teach mathematics to children in first and second grade in a new and active way. Mathematics is an abstract learning subject, which makes it a difficult subject to many children. The TenTiles presents mathematics in a visual and dynamic way to children, which helps children in understanding this abstract subject.
Children in first and second grade are very active and often find it difficult to stay concentrated for long periods of time. As children sit in their desks at school their ability to concentrate on the learning subject presented to them decreases over time. In order to improve the childrens concentration, they need to do something different; the children need an outlet for their energy. The TenTiles provides an excellent opportunity for this because the TenTiles involves the children in an active way.
How does the TenTiles work?
The activity starts when 10 children sit around the TenTiles, one child behind every tile. A mathematical problem will be displayed in the middle of the TenTiles, this problem will have to be solved by the children. A red light will spin around on the TenTiles, going past all the children. The light will slow down and eventually stop at a random child. The child at which the light stops has to solve the mathematical problem. The child will start solving the problem by stepping on the tile in front of him/her. The child will then walk in a circle on the TenTiles and will walk the amount of steps that represents the answer of the mathematical problem, every step will be taken on a new tile. After the child thinks he/she walked the right amount of steps the child will jump off the tiles to show the device this is the answer. The TenTiles will then provide feedback to the children by lighting up either red or green. Red represents a wrong answer, which means the child has to step back on the TenTiles to correct that answer. Green represents a correct answer, which means the child can go back and sit behind his/her tile. If a correct answer is given a new mathematical problem will be displayed and the activity starts anew.
Why does the TenTiles work?
The Tentiles approaches the abstract subject mathematics in a different way. It presents the subject visually, which helps children to connect a meaning to the number 0 to 9. Every tile represents a single digit number like 1 and every round a child walks on the TenTiles represent a double digit number like 10. Children often have trouble understanding the difference between single and double digit numbers, the TenTiles aids them with understanding this difference.
Another way the TenTiles represents mathematics in a new way is with movement. Just like with the visual feedback every step a child takes represents a single digit number and every round a child walks represents a double digit number. Muscle-memory will help the children connect what they feel with the abstract numbers. Together with visual feedback this dynamic feedback helps the children with abstracting tremendously.
Something that was notable in user-tests taken with the TenTiles is that the children around the TenTiles will start counting when a child walks on the TenTiles. The children around the TenTiles count the amount of steps the child who is solving the math problem takes. The children around the TenTiles also indicate whether the answer is right or wrong. The child who is solving the math problem will receive natural and playful feedback trough sound. This helps the children connect a sound to a number, which helps them with the abstracting process. It also shows the children around the TenTiles do not sit and wait, they are also involved with solving the math problem.
Another strong point of the TenTiles is that it is different from learning out of books. It is a fun and active way of learning and therefore children see it differently, they see it as an extra break or as a new addition to their playground. Because children see the TenTiles like this they will be learning mathematics with a different mindset. And because the subject taught is the same as in the books there still is a connection between the two.
Not only is the TenTiles a new effective way of teaching mathematics and is it fun to do, it is also a great way for children to effectively use their energy. Near the end of a long day at school children lose their ability to concentrate. They need to get rid of some of that energy to be able to concentrate in class again. The TenTiles is an excellent opportunity for this, it allow children to get rid of that energy while still teaching them subjects taught in the classroom.