Math game Ko’s Journey offers real achievements

Scott Laidlaw taught middle school for years, always incorporating games into his classroom. Now, as CEO and co-owner of Imagine Education, he’s bringing that expertise to classrooms across the country.

His new game, Ko’s Journey, is based on a story Laidlaw heard while traveling in Peru. After receiving a $500,000 grant from Next Generation Learning Challenges (partly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), he’ll next travel from class to class, helping teachers implement the game into their lesson plans. A documentary crew is following along, hoping to release the film to middle schools everywhere by next spring. The results have been impressive.

The game has been available since last summer, and already the results of playing it are evident in students’ standardized test scores. The scores were on Laidlaw’s mind while developing the game, which he says was created “in the heat of the teaching environment”. The results are reflected in student scores on the MAPs, or Measures of Academic Progress tests, which are standardized tests for middle schoolers in West Virginia. Students who played Ko’s Journey, on average, scored 50% higher on the MAPs than those who didn’t play.

Now if only Number Munchers were available in elementary schools, we might get our nation’s math and science progress back on track.

Jon Irwin