Trending: Ex-Microsoft sports director charged with attempting to steal $1.5M and selling employee Super Bowl tickets


Video games are making their way into Washington schools early next month and for all the right reasons.

Using an iteration of a learning app called DragonBox, the Washington State Algebra Challenge is a one-of-a-kind campaign to get students across the state to solve 250,000 equations in just one week.

Scheduled for June 3-to-7, participating classes will get a chance to play a free online version of DragonBox, a multi-platform math learning game among the top-selling learning apps in the App Store.

The original game was developed by French-Norwegian game-based learning company WeWantToKnow. Last year, the company partnered with The Center for Game Science at the University of Washington, which has helped improve the app and conduct classroom trials to add adaptive level and tutorial generation, teacher support tools and other features.

dragonbox2For the Challenge, a specially-developed platform was adapted to meet the Common Core Standards for mathematics that’s being implemented statewide. Live progress of the challenge will be updated at and prizes for every grade level (K-12) will be given to classrooms that achieve the highest percentage of mastery per student.

After the Challenge, teachers will be able to use DragonBox for free during the 2013-14 school year and also utilize an analytical tool called Teacher Portal that provides feedback and shows student progress.

The game is designed to have the most dramatic effect at the elementary level for those who are embracing algebra for the first time, but any students can find benefit.

“We also think the game is useful for older kids as well, both to gain a new perspective on algebra and for remediation of concepts that were not fully absorbed in earlier grades,” said the UW’s Kate Fisher.

centerforgamescienceBut it’s the first-timers that can benefit the most. Many elementary school students may get the wrong perception and shy away from math and science if they run into early stumbling blocks.

“Once interest and engagement is gone, the task of producing effective advanced material that draws students towards STEM is significantly harder,” Fisher said. “Conveying this material in a way that is effective, fun and engaging and in an environment that children naturally gravitate towards can help create a positive perception towards mathematical thinking, funneling a significantly larger number of self-interested students into STEM fields.”

Using games in the classroom is certainly a new idea, but one that people like Northeastern University-Seattle CEO Tayloe Washburn see great potential for, especially in Seattle.

The Washington State Algebra Challenge is sponsored by WeWantToKnow and Technology Alliance. If you’d like to register your class or just for more information, head to the Algebra Challenge website.

Previously on GeekWire: Northeastern Univ. CEO: ‘Gaming in Seattle is a submarine industry’

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


Job Listings on GeekWork

Find more jobs on GeekWork. Employers, post a job here.