DENNIS TOWNSHIP – JiJi the Penguin recently visited the Dennis Township School District to talk with students about the ST Math program, designed to boost students’ math scores. 

According to MIND Research Institute, the program’s designer, ST Math is game-based instructional software for students in grades K-12 and is designed to boost math comprehension and proficiency through visual learning.

Superintendent Mark Miller implemented the program at the primary and elementary schools about three years ago. This year, the district has included the middle school in the program.

According to Miller, he introduced ST Math into the district to help students struggling with specific math skills.

“The end result was that the program has helped all students,” he said. “We use the data generated to see where our strengths and weaknesses are and then address them in the classroom.”

Teachers implementing the program are encouraged to schedule at least one period a week for students to use ST Math in the computer labs at school, but then to also urge their students to use the program at home.  Students can access ST Math online or download the application to a tablet.

“I think it’s important for students to understand that this is a fun resource to use more than once a week in school,” said Katie McGroarty, the primary school technology teacher.  “Our younger students who have been using this since they started school like ST Math and JiJi and we’ve seen their math skills improve.”

Jiji the Penguin, she said, is ST Math’s mascot and online instructional avatar.

The program uses what MIND Research calls “spatial-temporal reasoning” to guide students independently through a game-like environment to develop math and problem-solving skills, Miller said.

“I feel that ST Math is good for the district because the students remember it from their primary school experience and look forward to it when they get here for fourth grade,” said Dr. Joseph LaRosa, Jr., elementary and middle school principal. “It provides a degree of continuity in their academic development as well as the ability to work independently that will benefit them as they face more challenging mathematical concepts each year.”

Regardless of the results of these various programs, Miller said, one thing is true: having a giant penguin visit a cafeteria is cool.