AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofits Blog

Reaching students and teaching mathematics playfully and rigorously around the world

In numerous classrooms around the world, children speak and learn in many different languages. When it comes to mathematics, though, language should not be a barrier to empowering children as they learn problem-solving and critical thinking.

Matific was designed by educational experts to foster mathematics excellence from kindergarten through sixth grade (K-6). Immersing students in an engaging learning platform and deep conceptual understanding, Matific supports students in learning mathematics in a playful and thought-provoking manner.

Matific supports national mathematics curricula and popular textbooks in more than 40 countries and 30 languages. Since founding the company in 2012, the mission was to impact mathematics and science education around the world. To go global, the company needed both scale and reach. And with the complexity of local education regulations, they also needed to meet the security and compliance requirements for each country.

As an educational technology company, Matific had the choice to either spend $200,000 to buy servers or use the cloud to access the necessary infrastructure to get their organization off the ground and into classrooms. The cloud was the way to go, and the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud was their first choice.

“AWS allows us to scale up and down quickly, and to easily deliver content globally, and in variety of languages and different locales,” said Uri Avraham, Matific’s Operations Manager.

Inside the games, behind the scenes

Although Matific is focused on the student experience, what goes on behind the scenes makes the front-end interaction as seamless as possible. Whenever a child somewhere in the world wishes to learn mathematics playfully, the application must be ready and secure.

Availability is key during the annual “Matific Games” events, in which thousands of schools in Australia, the United States, Brazil, the UK, and Israel compete during a three-week period. During the last competition, the kids solved more than 250 million math questions. To support this spike in usage, the company needs its operations to be rolling automatically without any glitches. As students compete worldwide, the results need to be delivered to their teachers for reporting and assessment. Through an API Gateway and AWS Lambda, the performance data is collected and stored in Amazon Redshift and Amazon EC2.

“We would never be able to reach the amount of students and collect the amount of data to help the teachers do their jobs better if we didn’t go into the cloud,” said Shmuel Tauber, VP of R&D, Matific.

Containers for scale

Another way the team is able to scale to reach students around the world is through containers.

“One of the benefits we have experienced while moving to containers is that it allows us to scale more smoothly. We can now scale vertically by adding more containers to the existing EC2 machines, while we scale horizontally by adding more EC2 servers in the background,” says Shmuel.

Another benefit is cost savings. “Our container architecture allow us to better utilize our instance by deploying containers in several resource sizes to better adapt to the task that they require to perform, we have moved from 10-20% server utilization to more than 60%,” says Shmuel.

E-Learning with Amazon Polly

The cloud also helps personalize the learning experience for each user. Each one of Matific’s 2,000+ gaming activities can have 200 different possible questions. The team uses Amazon Polly to automate the voice instructions, which saves countless hours from having to manually record all of the possible instructions.

“Before we used Polly, we did a manual recording, and this could take an hour for one episode in one language. We support 30 languages and more than 1,500 content items that need translation, so before Polly we only recorded for some of our content,” says Shmuel.

Instead, Polly automates the instructions in all available languages. The voice instructions allow the students to play the games without having to read, which is important for the younger children.

“Quite simply, AWS allows our developers to focus on what they do best,” says Shmuel.

What teachers think of Matific

Each day, Matific receives many emails, videos, and letters. Kids all over the world, in more than 30 languages, are learning mathematics with Matific in an enjoyable way, something that makes them and their teachers enthusiastic and grateful.

“Matific enables each child at our school to work and achieve at their own pace. The pupils cannot wait for tablet time as they are so excited to play with each activity. Matific has given our special needs pupils an exciting way to learn mathematics concepts that they previously found daunting. It is fun, inspiring, and open to all types of learners,” said Sharon Rowe, Principal of FootPrints Special Needs Preparatory School in South Africa.

It is feedback like this that keeps the Matific team so driven and passionate about their mission – to help every child around the world learn mathematics playfully and rigorously.