Ask kids what they like to do for fun, and not a lot of them will say that it’s learning math. But they just might change their answer once they try some of Motion Math’s games. Founded by Gabriel Adauto and Jacob Klein, Motion Math is a San Francisco-based game design studio that makes fun math games for children. They have already released four, all of which can be played on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod.
Both co-founders hold a Master’s in Learning, Design, and Technology from Stanford and are passionate about providing learning experiences that inspire, delight, and empower. Adauto previously taught technology classes to kids in the Bay Area and Sweden, while Klein has tutored students in math and writing. Their shared enthusiasm for education and games come together at Motion Math.
Unlike other educational game companies, Motion Math does not aim to balance engagement and learning, but to marry the two seamlessly. According to Klein and Adauto, “[In the learning games industry], there’s a destructive design pattern that attempts to make learning fun by the cheapest technique possible: inserting irrelevant math worksheet problems into the middle of a video game.”
Adauto and Klein say that this false dichotomy makes math “the enemy of fun”. So don’t expect to see, say, random mathematical questions popping out randomly in a castle in any of their games.
The startup’s Motion Math: Hungry Fish game, for instance, teaches addition and subtraction with a fish who eats numbers. If the fish is marked with a 7, kids can either feed it with a bubble containing the number 7, or by combining two bubbles with smaller numbers that add up to 7, e.g. 4+3, 5+2, or 6+1. Furthermore, scoring enough points allows the player to customize their fish with new colors and fins.