When Walter Schenk's
daughter Alexa was struggling in math class three years ago, the Alamo high-tech consultant created a computer program to help her
and his friend Graham Anderson of Walnut Creek have launched their own company to make interactive learning systems for children.
Schenk, 46, has worked for Oracle and as a consultant to the state on K- 12 education.
He also was a member of a math task force in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District that re-wrote the district's math standards.
was in third grade she
had trouble memorizing her
multiplication tables," Schenk
"My wife gave me the task of helping her
learn this over the summer."
shuddered at the prospect of coming home after a full day of work only to have to drill his
daughter on her
multiplication tables --
came home and asked how the program worked, his
daughter said she'd done all the work with hardly any trouble at all.
"What I didn't tell her
is I logged all her
answers into a file," Schenk
said with a chuckle.
"I looked into the file and noted that she
only did three lessons instead of six and had lots of errors, even though she
, whose daughter was more than a little embarrassed by his
revelation, was pleased at his
own cleverness for figuring out a way to keep track of what his
daughter was doing during the day and to chart her
It worked so well Alexa shared the program with a friend who lived down the street.
By the end of the summer their math skills had increased considerably.
Alexa is now in an advanced sixth-grade math class.
"After that a light bulb kind of went on," said Schenk
, who then shared his idea with his friend Anderson.
"We immediately correct errors, and studies show that kids learn better when you immediately show them their errors," said Schenk
Even though there are a lot of learning applications on the market, Anderson and Schenk
are confident their company will be successful.