It's Math Happy Hour

Combining his love of mathematics and computer science, Gustavo Reis’s mathematics school, “Mathematica Et Cetera”, is helping to bring the “cool” factor back into learning about math for students, teachers, and parents of all ages. “Mathematica Et Cetera” aims to promote the teaching and learning of mathematics in various levels through established methods, providing the direction needed to make learning happen naturally and efficiently. Gustavo recently introduced a live video component to his teaching methods – a weekly, one-hour live broadcast, called “Math Happy Hour”, dedicated to the fascinating world of numbers. A pivotal component of the production, BoinxTV helps Gustavo broadcast the show to a consistent 100+ live viewers each week. We sat down with Gustavo to learn more about the many calculations that go into producing his “Math Happy Hour.”

Can you tell me a little bit about your background and what you do?

I own a mathematics school called “Gustavo Reis Mathematica Et Cetera” in the city of Porto Alegre, Brazil. Porto Alegre is the 10th largest capital in the country and an important city as it relates to the “Southern Cone,” since it’s exactly halfway between São Paulo and Buenos Aires (90 minute flights) and it’s the capital of Brazil’s southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul.

My school offers regular courses that prepare students for University admission exams that are mandatory in Brazil (called “vestibulares”) and also provides support for students who are already attending tech schools in subjects such as calculus, linear algebra and differential equations. We also have a team of partners who offer private tutoring at all levels (primary, high school, college). Although the school is focused on math, other teachers share our space and offer regular prep courses on a variety of subjects such as portuguese, chemistry, biology and history — so, in addition to the math primary focus, the school ended up becoming a co-working space for specialist teachers who want to work on their own.

Besides teaching math, which I have been doing since 1991, I have a degree in Computer Science from UFRGS (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul) - class of 1995. As a direct consequence, I am always very interested in new education technologies, especially online learning using video on demand.

How did you come to hear about Boinx Software and BoinxTV?

In mid-2010, I decided to build a video studio so that I could produce additional learning materials for regular course students and also put together films that I could use as online marketing pieces. In addition, I thought it would be great if I could produce a live show that felt more like a professional production instead of a standard Twitcam-based broadcast. I started doing some research on the web and quickly found out about BoinxTV. I have to say that the first thought that came to my mind when I visited the product website was "hey, were these guys thinking about me when they put together this thing???" -- it was such a perfect fit that it was hard to believe!

Can you tell me about your show "Math Happy Hour?"

The "Math Happy Hour" evolved from a couple of experiments we did in 2010, when we used Twitcam to help students the day before a couple of important "vestibulares.” With virtually no marketing effort other than tweeting a couple of hours before the event, the first edition drew approximately 70 live viewers. Prior to the second edition, we included Facebook and my personal blog in the marketing mix, and as a result we reached more than 250 live viewers. It was clear to me that there was room for more.

This year, we decided to broadcast a weekly show on Wednesdays at 8pm, a time when students are already home but it's not so late that their sleep would be compromised. In the show, we discuss interesting aspects of the world of numbers through puzzles, games and teasers and try to prove to viewers, in a free translation of our Portuguese description, that math really can be cool!

Who is your target audience for the show?

Now, this is interesting: when we broadcast the premiere edition, on May 11th, I was positive that the audience would be almost exclusively composed of current students interested in subjects related to the fore-mentioned exams. It didn't take long for me to realize that the show was being watched by former students, friends, relatives, old time classmates and, amazingly enough, parents! Lots of them! This led me to a quick roadmap change to the "Hora Feliz", which became less technical and more entertaining since then. It became more inclusive and, fortunately, more fun to produce and to present! Each live broadcast has been watched consistently by around 100 viewers, in addition to the 2400+ views previous episodes have already accumulated on YouTube -- and it's been only a couple of months since we started!

How does BoinxTV help you to create the show?

BoinxTV is pivotal for the live show production. We use an iMac and a set of 3 cameras: #1 is a Firewire cam, #2 is an HD Webcam, and #3 is the iSight. The versatility of BoinxTV in accepting virtually every imaginable video source allowed us to put together a 3-camera setup while keeping costs low. We use Chroma keying (the newly updated chroma key pro filter is awesome!!!) and extensively use lower thirds throughout the show, as well as the Twitter and Digital Clock gadgets. The interview layer adds a professional twist while keeping things informal whenever I request my live editor to pitch in -- I quickly realized that it's great to have someone to talk to when you're presenting a live show! We create the final video output using CamTwist and Soundflower, and then broadcast live using Livestream Producer. We record all shows locally using BoinxTV and upload them to our YouTube channel as soon as each episode ends.

How is BoinxTV different from other live video production software?

Since this is my first experience with live video production software, I'm afraid I don't have other references to compare BoinxTV to. On the money side, however, I can point out that the 50% educational license discount was definitely a deal maker! :)

Would you recommend BoinxTV to others?

Anytime! This is truly a masterpiece! There would be no "Math Happy Hour" if BoinxTV were not in the loop!