How much math can you learn from a game?


When I tell people that data showed students improve math scores 30% after playing our games, I expect more questions than I get. I have concluded either:

  1. They think I am full of bull%^& (I promised Maria not to swear on this blog, but you can always read my personal one)
  2. They are too busy to ask questions.
  3. They assume there is more to it but they are willing to trust that I know the details (they’re right!)

bull

In case you fall into groups 2 or 3, here are a few of the details.

No, of course you cannot learn “ALL OF MATH” from a game in 8 weeks. You can’t even learn all of fifth-grade math. What you can learn, and what is tested, is a very specific set of math standards that are included in each game.

For example, Spirit Lake: The Game teaches multiplication and division, including division with remainders, word problems using multiplication and division. Students are tested on those areas of mathematics before they  play the game and after winning it. This usually takes 8 weeks because students in school usually play twice a week for 30 minutes and part of that 30 minutes is taken up by distributing the laptops or walking down to the computer lab, announcements of the day, poking the students next to them or telling the teacher that another student poked them.

Similarly, the test for Fish Lake is on fractions – addition, subtraction, multiplication, lowest common denominator, factors – and that is exactly what is in the game.

Logically, students’ knowledge of math taught in the game improves – by about 30% – which those who played Fish Lake now know is about 1/3.

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