Mike Answers Your Math Questions

In 2006, "20/20" first introduced you to Mike Byster, the creator of Mike's Math. We received more than 8,000 e-mail questions and comments about Mike's Math, and we wanted to share some of Mike's answers to your questions. You can find out much more about Mike's Math at his Web site.

Angela Mooney from Wauconda Ill., asked, "Who were those kids on '20/20' and how did they do those amazing things?"

Mike: The kids on the show were everyday third-, fifth- and eighth-grade students in regular classrooms. The two main reasons for their improvement were they believed in themselves, and they were taught in an extremely fun environment.

Lolly Libman from Prescott, Ariz., asked, "Does this work on all children?"

Mike: I have tested this out on hundreds of kids of all ages and ability levels, and each child improved tremendously.

Maria Gruett from Lititz, Pa., asked, "What will be the best way for my kid to learn Mike's Math?"

Mike: I have always believed that the key to learning is to make it fun. We have developed a very fun groundbreaking interactive way for kids to learn, unlike anything ever done before. We do not think the optimal way is through workbooks.

Nancy Murray from Adrian, Mich., asked, "How long does it take for the kids to get really good at it."

Mike: There are 15 sections, each requiring anywhere between a couple of days to a week to master, depending on the child. So about one to three months is a good guideline.

Sarah Ashton, Cambridge, N.Y., asked, "I am so excited by this, how can I make a donation?"

Mike: Thank you so much, but we are not accepting donations. Mike's Math is one of the most powerful educational tools ever developed and needs to be made available and affordable to every child in the world. We are looking to partner with powerful people or kid-friendly corporations whose main objective is to educate children and can help us achieve our goal.

Mary Bojan from McHenry, Ill., asked, "Does your system work for all multiplication problems or just ones with shortcuts?"

Mike: It works for all multiplication problems. But sometimes it is more beneficial to use shortcuts for certain problems.

Mickey Steiner from Boynton Beach, Fla., asked, "When will Mike's Math be made available to the general public?"

Mike: It can be mass produced in a short amount of time. We do not have an exact timeline, but sometime in 2007.

Bernie Marren from Los Altos, Calif., asked, "You mentioned in the interview on '20/20' how you take it beyond math. Can you give me an example?"

Mike: Your mind gets used to processing information much quicker when you are doing this system. Once you do it with numbers, it works with words and letters, thus greatly improving one's memory. For an example, go to www.mikesmath.com and click on video. It is a two-minute clip, but it shows memory prowess besides math.

Larry Kauffman from Detroit asked, "Do you ever regret leaving your job to do this for free?"

Mike: I have never regretted it for one day. I receive thousands of letters from kids saying how cool this is and how good they feel about themselves. You cannot put a price tag on that.

Sandy Browner from San Diego asked, "What can I do to get you to come to my kid's school and what do you charge?"

Mike: I am getting thousands of e-mails for school requests and I will just pick as many as I can to visit. The only thing I charge is my basic expenses (air, hotel, meals) and that can be split equally between the schools I visit when I am there.

Deborah Gray from Homewood, Ill., asked, "It was stated that you live in Illinois and visit schools. What is the procedure to have you visit my son's eighth-grade class? He attends Parker Jr. High in Flossmoor, Ill."

Mike: I visit one or two different schools every day. The problem is from the Chicago area alone I received 1,200 school requests this year, and that was before "20/20." Have your son's teacher drop me an e-mail, Deborah, and I will see what I can do.

Sheila from Skokie, Ill., wrote, "I would love to be taught by you. I'm not a kid; I'm 50. I live in a Chicago suburb. Do you do seminars for adults?"

Mike: I do a lot of adult seminars with people with math phobia. My favorite adult classes are college or graduate school education majors who are really eager to learn how they can improve their mind and at the same time impact children.

Angel Lee from Anniston, Ala., wrote, "I heard about your methods after my parents saw you on '20/20.' I have a 9-year-old daughter with ADHD and a learning disability in math. She is very intelligent and excellent at memorization and reading comprehension, but math simply does not make sense to her. Would your system be of help to her and if so, how could we find one of your seminars to get her to you. Thanks for any assistance you can offer."

Mike: The first part of the program (there are five parts) is teaching kids fun ways to focus and follow directions. I have found that the biggest difference between "top level" and average or below average students is their focus. While everyone can improve in these areas, we encourage kids with special needs to take extra time in this section, because it will really help them.

Mario Posada from Chula Vista, Calif., wrote, "7,598,677 x 12? In 1967, my Wasington State Issaquah High School teacher Mr. Rudd talked to us about the Jakow Trachtenberg system of mathematics … which provided some quicker ways of solving math problems. Is your system similar to that one?"

Mike: 91,184,124. When I was growing up I heard of Tractenberg and read his works. He was a genius. His methods for smaller numbers and shortcuts are similar to mine, but the bigger numbers are done differently. Also, taking that power of numbers and turning it to memory and words are things that he did not do, which is so important in our program.

Darius Zhang from New York City wrote, "I saw the article on '20/20,' and I saw how fast your students were able to answer the problems. Here is one problem: 4926 x 3279.

Please explain how you used your system to solve this. I saw the little demo about numbers with the last digit as 5 and then squaring them. I would like to go a little more in-depth. I witnessed how your students were able to solve problems similar to the one above in less than like, 15 seconds; and I would like to duplicate that feat."

Mike: To be honest, Darius, it took closer to 25 seconds but television cut out a little of the downtime. It is hard to get into detail, but the key to the program is being able to empower your mind to quickly multitask. Get a little bit more information and adding to your answer in your head one digit at a time until you have the final answer.

Kristen Benovic from Washington wrote, "Hi! I am a second-grade teacher at a school in Maryland. I was wondering where you are located to see if it would be possible to arrange something. I know my students would love for you to come!"

Mike: Kristen, when a school is out of state all I ask for is that my basic expenses be picked up (air, hotel, food). But if you have a few schools in the area you want me to visit over two days, the cost can be split between the schools."

Lee Seidman from Connecticut wrote, "Any plans of publishing anything so adults who were never that strong in math can improve themselves? I've been to your Web site and did not find opportunities to purchase materials that could do that."

Mike: Our program will be able to be used by children and adults alike. Even though I started doing this for kids, approximately 30 percent of the letters I received are from adults about themselves seeking how they can learn this for themselves.