Math whizz launches free app

2019-03-20 06:01
Lloyd Gordon (middle) shows UKZN statistics masters students Qondeni Ndlangamandla (left), Bongumusa Gwala (right) and Ndumiso Mkhize (back) how his new maths app works.PHOTO: supplied

Lloyd Gordon (middle) shows UKZN statistics masters students Qondeni Ndlangamandla (left), Bongumusa Gwala (right) and Ndumiso Mkhize (back) how his new maths app works.PHOTO: supplied

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IF you don’t have a maths book, or a teacher, or you need extra tutorials then don’t fret. A free mobile mathematics application that helps students solve mathematical problems step-by-step has gone live.

Conceptualised and developed by Pietermaritzburg-based young entrepreneur Lloyd Gordon­, the App covers all the topics from algebra to trigonometry, solves equations and plots graphs, among its many features.

The app is an extension of Gordon­’s web-based programme Open Omnia, developed to assist students who struggle with mathematics to better understand the subject.

A student simply types in a mathematical problem and the app returns a step-by-step solution, ensuring that students learn how to get to the answer.

“It is not just a scientific calculator, it is a learning tool that helps students understand and learn. It provides all the formulae and notes on each of the topics and is intended for high school and university students,” said Gordon, who has a University of KwaZulu-Natal Computer Science degree.

His idea for the app was formulated during computer science and applied maths lectures when he saw how he and most of his peers struggled with maths. “I tried to solve the problem that maths is a problem,” he said.

Gordon entered his prototype app in the Ithala­ Development Finance Corporation’s Inkunzi­’ Isematholeni Youth in Business Competition in 2017 and came second, winning R50 000 in working capital and business support to help his project materialise. He has also since received assistance from UKZN’s InQbate, which has developed an Entrepreneurship Skills Programme called ENSPIRE to equip university students with entrepreneurial skills

The Inkunzi­’ Isematholeni programme empowers aspiring entrepreneurs to turn their creative concepts into fully operational businesses by providing start-up capital and the necessary business support to help them launch, manage and run their businesses successfully.

The flagship campaign was launched by Ithala­ in 2014 in an effort to tackle unemployment by encouraging youth to consider self-employment as a job option.

The 2018 winner will be announced at Ithala’s Business Achievers Awards in March.

Describing himself as a lone wolf, Gordon has developed the entire app — the code and design — on his own and only consulted with good designers to ensure the app was appealing.

Naturally, he learned a lot about the subject and believes that the best teachers are those who have struggled to master a subject.

The app functions on Android mobile phones as well as online. It is free and the web application can be found at OpenOmnia.com.

Omnia means “everything” or “all” and its main goal is to make educational material accessible to everyone, for free.

Gordon said it was a free app as this mobile app may be the only source of math’s education for students in rural areas.

Gordon was self-taught, learning to programme for Android and online coding in Python on his own. His computer science studies helped in the sense that he became used to tackling new knowledge and concepts.

What excites him about the app, and what he feels makes all the time spent on developing it worthwhile, is the opportunity to make an impact on and change the lives of others.

Mathematics was just the first step — Gordon is planning chemistry and physical science apps to make a whole scientific set.

“We are encouraging youth (18 to 35) to start thinking about their own original concept and preparing a well thought out presentation which they can submit when this year’s Inkunzi­’ Isematholeni Youth in Business Competition, which opens later in the year.

“Don’t leave your entries to the last minute,” said Andile Mabaso, Ithala’s Corporate Social Investment Co-ordinator. — Supplied.

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