At 11:30 one Friday morning, hundreds of middleschool kids in Lerner auditorium were screaming with excitement. On the giant video screen on stage, students’robot avatars armed with space-age immobilizers competed against one another in a 3D landscape.
But to win, players must answer algebra questions.
The video game, Meltdown, is being tested as a new way to teach math to middle schoolers, including pilot programs in some of the country’s biggest school systems, such as Miami, Chicago and New York.
“It's a paradigm shift in thinking about education,” said Ntiedo “NT” Etuk ’02, who is also cofounder, chairman and CEO of Tabula Digita, the maker of Meltdown. “I really believe that the reason kids are doing poorly is because what is happening outside the classroom is not being translated to what is happening inside the classroom.”
Preliminary results suggest that the game helps students’ standardized test scores, and that students in classes that use the game have better attendance and are more engaged in learning.