'Mike's Math'

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Mike's students love the lessons they have learned, and they're using the new skills in their everyday lives. Some of the techniques Mike uses are not new, like mnemonics, for example. He asked our class in New Jersey to memorize 10 random words. On average the students were able to recall half the list. Then, Mike used a simple mnemonic device -- he told a story using the same words, and the retention rate went up 94 percent.

The kids gain confidence from the tricks:

"One of the biggest things we do is, we've empowered your brain in math. Now take that to words and letters," Mike explains. "Everyone spells "television" the same way: T-E-L-E-V-I-S-I-O-N. I will spell it E-E-I-I-L-N-O-S-T-V. I can take the letters and put them in alphabetical order."

Melanie, now in 11th grade, was one of Byster's first students.

"I think learning how to do these different types of math things helped me to become more confident," she says, "and it helped me believe that I could do anything if I tried to do it."

Byster's wife agrees about just how much confidence can do for kids.

"I think what we are seeing now is the people that get all the fame and the riches, are the good athletes and the good singers, which is fine," she said, "but the smart kids -- they grow up to cure cancer and to do things that will change the world, and that's cool."

The Future

"20/20" first reported on Mike Byster in December 2006. He was volunteering at Chicago area schools, teaching students "Mike's Math" and looking for an investor to help him put "Mike's Math" on the Internet and on DVDs so kids around the world could benefit from his system.

After the show aired, Byster was flooded with more than 20,000 e-mails from more than 30 different countries inquiring about his program. Byster found an investor, and now "Mike's Math" is "Brainetics" -- what he calls "a revolutionary math and memory system."

Though the Brainetics Web site is still in production, you can visit the Mike's Math Web site (http://www.mikesmath.com) to stay up to date on his progress. Byster is currently in the middle of production with a series of seven DVDs and workbooks due out this November.

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