KZN student launches maths app to help students

DURBAN – A free mobile maths app 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 his 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 into Ithala Development Finance Corporation’s Inkunz’ 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 the university’s students with entrepreneurial skills

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 one cannot buy anything using airtime and this mobile app may be the only source of math’s education for students in rural areas.

He is 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 makes all the time spent on developing worthwhile is the opportunity to make and impact on and change the lives of others. Maths was just the first step and he is planning chemistry and physics apps to make a whole scientific set.

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