Designed at school, for school

Developed in the Stanford School of Education's Learning, Design and Technology program, Equatia's designs and mechanics are soundly rooted in research from leading education practitioners, theorists and game designers. Read a condensed version of the accompanying thesis.

Early prototypes underwent extensive user testing at Rocketship Education, where students played the game on a consistent basis during their daily computer lab sessions. Further development and improvements were made in response to their feedback, comments, and results.

"Equatia was a tremendously successful trial for us. We saw really substantial, explicit gains in fact fluency throughout the course of the trial. We saw students really engaged with the program and who were able to use the program quite easily...Because we've had so much success with the program, that's less time our teachers have to spend reinforcing those skills." —Charlie Bufalino, National Development Associate, Rocketship Education

Frequently asked questions

How does Equatia stand out from other educational games?

It's not hard to empathize with the frustration that many kids have with today's educational games. It's unfortunate that we're in the 21st century and most still feel more like animated worksheets or flashcards than games. We're changing that by creating an immersive environment that borrows design elements from commercially succesful titles in the entertainment gaming industry. We want to promote risk-taking and off-the-path exploration as opposed to the static, single-screen game environment. No more "shoot the right answer" games. Think of the difference between Asteroids and Super Mario World.

What's the learning objective?

Equatia's main learning objective is basic math fluency (addition through division). Sure it may sound small and simple, but these skills are the critical foundations upon which more advanced math topics are based on. Without mastery of the basic essentials, students are likely to become frustrated and discouraged with higher-order math. Take a simple problem like:

56 + 78:

= 2024 + 2124 (1 LCD, 2 multiplication calculation)

= 4124 (addition)

= 11724 (subtraction)

Even if a student can perform basic calculations with 90% accuracy (enough to pass a test with an A-, a mark that many consider acceptable), in a five-step problem the probability dramatically drops to 59%. (.9 ^ 5 = .59) Since tiny deficiencies become magnified once stuents move on to advanced math, we want students to develop complete fluency and confidence with their basic arithmetic.

What learning standards does Equatia align to?

The game targets current Common Core Standards for the four basic arithmetic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) in grades K-3:

K.OA-5 (Fluently add and subtract within 5)

1.OA-6 (Add and subtract within 20)

2.OA-2 (Add and subtract within 20)

3.OA-7 (Multiply and divide within 100)

*Of course, since these skills are so fundamental, Equatia can also be used for remediation purposes.*

How does the game work?

Students must solve a math problem to perform an action. This simple mechanic allows them to navigate through a robust and lively world complete with enemies with various behaviors. The different levels and their elements are designed on a grid and follow very mathematical rules. As students becomes more familiar with the world, they will find themselves making decisions based on probabilities and algebraic and geometric optimization.

Gameplay is sequenced according to each number and fact family, providing a steady pace at which students get all the practice they need to in order to achieve fluency. And it doesn't hurt that they're having fun at the same time!

Why only focus on basic fact fluency?

We understand that mechanics are essential to the flow of any game. Unlike other educational games that forcibly rely on the same mechanic to teach a vast array of content, Equatia's core action mechanic is tied to constant, repetitive practice, which has been proven to be very effective at building basic arithmetic fluency. So the game sticks with what it does best—and in doing so ensures that the gameplay maintains a consistent pace and rhythm.

What kinds of in-game data are available?

You'll have access to a dashboard that shows you how each student in your class or group is doing. You can drill down to precisely to individual problems, so you'll know when a student for some reason just can't figure out the answer to 7 x 6. The program helps teachers diagnose problem areas and step in to provide effective remediation.

Got your own dashboard? No worries--we're quite flexible when it comes to working with APIs so that your platform will be able to pull stats from our database. We can also enable single sign-on features too!

Are there results?

Yup. Rocketship Education conducted a three-week A/B trial, where students took a pre-test, used the respective programs, and took a post-test. Students using Equatia enjoyed a higher increase in their average post-test scores than those using a competing, well-established program.

Technical requirements

Equatia is currently only available on web browsers. It runs on Unity, and so requires a quick, painless plugin.

And yes, we'll be coming out with a mobile version. Hold your horses!

Our mission is to redefine expectations for educational games. Together we bring an uncanny hodgepodge of skills and experience to tackling this problem. Contact us here.

Brady Fukumoto grew up in a family of teachers, designers, and software engineers and decided to put it all together by designing educational software! After graduating from L.A. County High School for the Arts with a degree in music, he went on to earn a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from UC Berkeley and an M.A. in Learning, Design and Technology from Stanford University. He has done engineering work for Pixar and the National Security Agency and is currently a game designer at Disney/Playdom.

Kris Hattori received his BA in International Studies from UC Irvine and his MA in Film from USC. He currently also works for EdSurge. He's worked on numerous film and personal projects, including programming robots for the 2010 Sonar Festival in Spain, along with messing around with LEDs and making joysticks. A film junkie, he's proud to have gone through all the top 100 250 ranked films on IMDB.

Tony Wan received his BA in History from UC San Diego and his MA in East Asian Studies from Stanford University. He is also currently Associate Editor at EdSurge. He took that picture of Brady above which somehow ended up in the NYTimes. He once tried to ride a horse in Inner Mongolia while on a volunteer program to teach English. You should ask him how that went.

Special Thanks

Mitchell Fukumoto for UX/UI design; Steph Liaw, Kyle Kagawa, Huy Nguyen, and Kevin MacLeod for art and music; Kiyoshi Shikuma and Randi Abe on the coding and database; the Stanford School of Education; and John Danner, Charlie Bufalino, Mike Teng, and the rest of the staff at Rocketship Education for their continued support.

© 2013 Luckybird Games