Our Story

Crazy 8s is the “second child” of the Bedtime Math family. It is the largest recreational after-school math club for elementary-aged kids in the U.S. Our mission is nothing short of massive culture change: enabling kids to enjoy math as much as (or more than!) they would enjoy sports, music and all their other extracurricular recreation.

Crazy 8s was born of the same spirit as Bedtime Math. Bedtime Math, launched by Laura Overdeck in 2012, gives kids playful nightly math problems to do with their families, with topics ranging from flamingos to pillow forts to world-record-breaking chocolate creations. Within weeks of launching, the blog had tens of thousands of regular users, but immediately people started asking, “Do you have hands-on activities, too?” People wanted to level up their math adventures.

In parallel, our small budding team saw that math clubs across America tended to focus only on competition math. This essential offering nurtures talent in our most math-loving, complexity-seeking future innovators – but realistically this represents a small fraction of kids. We wanted to create a complementary version of math club, where any kid with a pulse could explore numbers, shapes, patterns and secret codes in the liveliest way possible. So we set to work.

Much like Bedtime Math, Crazy 8s follows a simple rule: While most efforts out there take math and try to “make it fun,” we do the reverse: we find things kids already find fun, then unearth the math in it. Our very first activity, Glow-in-the-Dark Geometry, came straight out of Laura’s six-year-old son’s birthday party, which had a “Phineas and Ferb” theme. As kids built “-inators” (mischievous inventions) out of glowsticks and styrofoam balls, they inadvertently built amazing geometric lattices – and Glow-in-the-Dark Geometry was born, literally right there in the garage.

We now have three 8-week kits, giving children everywhere a no-repeats math experience different angle on math. And better yet, it helps kids overcome their anxiety around math and build confidence. In 2018, researchers at Johns Hopkins University released results of a study that found Crazy 8s significantly reduced children’s feelings of math anxiety after eight weeks of participation in the club. The effect was more pronounced among younger kids in the kindergarten through second grade club.

We structured this club carefully to turn math into a social bonding activity. Potential coaches receive the kit for free in return for following the honor code: Meet weekly after school with the same kids and include up to 16 members at most within a narrow grade range (grades K-2 or 3-5). These rules fuel Crazy 8s’ magic. Meeting weekly ensures that club members get to know each other and become friends over math. Keeping the grade ranges narrow ensures that older kids don’t start thinking of the club as a “little-kid” thing – remember, kids want to be like the older kids they see, not the younger kids! Meeting after school signals to kids that this is playtime and recreation – yes, we’re going to do math on purpose, and it’s going to be a blast. Finally, keeping the club between 12-16 participants generates the critical mass to have party-like energy without straining the coach’s class-management bandwidth.

We can tell it’s working. We’ve already shipped more than 30,000 kits, hitting all 50 states and serving more than 200,000 kids. In schools where there’s only one coach, we hear that they have to create a waitlist, and those kids end up in tears because they haven’t gotten in yet. We hustle to open as many clubs as we can, but if kids are crying about missing math club, we know we’ve touched a nerve. America is hungry for fun math, and we’re serving it up every day in the form of Crazy 8s Club. We hope you will join us and start a club at your own school!

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