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An ex-teacher has made an app that has kids really excited about doing maths

Jo Otto

This little Aussie app Maths Rockx, created by ex-teacher and mum of two, Jo Otto, is literally changing children’s attitudes to learning their times tables and increasing their abilities dramatically, all while they’re having a blast!

The app’s title “Maths Rockx: Times Tables + Rocking Tunes = Teaching You” speaks for itself. The times tables are sung to some of the biggest hits from some of the world’s best artists. There are tracks from; P!NK, Pharrell Williams, Lady Gaga, One Direction, will-i-am and Kelly Clarkson. Furthermore, the music production in this app is outstanding.

“The tables are sung, along with some lyrics from the original tracks plus some wooh’s and yeah’s and claps! The children listen to the vocals, read the corresponding equation as it pulses and sing along with it. Those three senses combined create a connection and the children learn very quickly,” Jo explained.

Who said maths can’t be fun?

“Kids are actually excited about doing maths for a change!” she says. “The app is taking teachers, children and their parents by storm. The reaction so far has been astounding – especially with the speed in which the children are learning.”

“Maths Rockx is engaging, exciting, challenging and it’s just so much fun. Kids get to sing, dance, clap, woo hoo and yeah, all while doing maths! This method just works and our children are enthusiastic to learn, which is naturally giving them their confidence back. NAPLAN creates so much anxiety in the lead up to the exams, even for the little ones. This clever app is already having a huge impact on so many kids!” Jo says.

Distributed on the App Store and Google Play Store, Maths Rockx has had 64,500 song downloads in less than three months, has regularly been the number one educational app in Australia and is launching internationally right now – with initial plans to expand to another 29 countries.

“Maths Rockx is already making a difference. We have to show every child out there that they can learn their times tables, which are the basic building blocks of numeracy in a fun, easy way! If your child knows their times tables, then all other maths problems become so much easier to solve”.

What is the story behind Maths Rockx?

Anthill caught up with Jo for a brief interview and below is what she had to share with us about herself and what she is looking to achieve with her app that is sweeping classrooms.

Who is Jo Otto?

I was a primary school teacher for 15 years, loved my job, loved my kids and loved Maths. I always taught my kids their times tables to rock songs – because it worked, and it was so much fun. Every child I taught knew their tables, children with learning difficulties and behavioural issues were engaged and empowered!  I left teaching in 2009 to have a family but I always wanted to get my idea out there.

The Otto family
The Otto family

What inspired you to start Maths Rockx?

I just knew this teaching concept worked and it was really something special, simple yet fan-bloody-tastic! Mums always wanted a CD burnt and the lyrics written out for home. Ex-students I’d run into would mention the way we’d sung the tables – so much so that my husband said, “We have to do this, Jo.”

In 2008, we filmed a DVD with my kids singing and wanted to go to market. I had no idea about publishing rights and it seemed way too hard. I had my own family and then – it was time. The app platform was taking off, it was the perfect medium for Maths Rockx and we couldn’t find another app on the market like what we wanted to make.

Jo and Stuart Otto
Jo and Stuart Otto

What problem are you looking to solve?

Children need to learn their times table facts by practicing/learning them off by heart – it is as simple as that. Practice makes perfect. There are lots of times table songs out there, but none sing them to some of the biggest hits from some of the best artists in the world – at least 7 no 1 hits are in Maths Rockx. The music is so good – it’s the tune, the beat and coolness of the tracks that sets it apart and that’s why the children love it – it’s contemporary and it’s cool. Maths isn’t supposed to be cool… it is now!

We are firstly an educational learning tool as well as a practice resource with the quiz, and an album – all in one little mobile device – it is so much fun and the kids just love it.

What is your vision for Maths Rockx?

I want every child to have the opportunity to learn their table facts quickly. This app provides a resource that empowers children because so often you hear children say, “I’m not good at maths”.

Maths Rockx is simply changing the lyrics to great songs and those new lyrics get stuck in their heads – it’s magical to watch the children get it – that’s what has driven me. We have launched internationally and have a new release coming that is tweaked to suit each country and will be available for everyone. Music is universal and that is the plan.


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