Maths Game Formula:
simple and effective
It doesn't happen often, but sometimes you come across something new, of which you think: "This is so simple and so much fun, why doesn't this already exist?" Formula is such an innovation.
How do you come up with something like this?
Actually, it is quite simple. Alon Nir decided that after a nice carrier as a senior Finance Manager at a company in the meat industry, that it was time to take a sabbatical of a year. The primary goal was to spend time with his family and to find new energy and creativity. Take the time to think. Alon’s dad has invented several games, but they never reached any further than the kitchen table. Full with energy, Alon and his dad were improving one of dad’s games. That night, Alon could not sleep due to all the adrenaline and creativity. In the middle of the night while staring at the ceiling, Alon came up with Formula. Alon mentioned this story at a school-event from his kids to Sven de Laaf. Sven and Alon have kids in the same ages and had become friends. Sven also owns the product-design company Studio Calico. Together with the Design Lead of this company, the first designs were developed further into the final product.
From idea to end-product
The designer and the creator wanted to keep the game simple and at the same time make it easier for kids (and parents) to practice maths. That was the goal that the creator and the developers had in mind. Several studies were made during the development process. For example, they looked at the positioning of the game in the market. How does Formula relate to other games and how do you keep the game fun to play while at the same time keep its educational value? Of course, this cannot be done from behind your desk! It is a journey past an endless amount of shops, meetings with target groups and many choices about which colours to use in cooperation with many children.
During the development of Formula, the game was played with kids and adults of different ages. In the end three proto-types were developed and tested in elementary school grade 1, 3 and 5 (ages 6, 8 and 10). During these “field-trails” the input of teachers was invaluable. The whole time, Formula could be frequently tested at “Kind aan Zee” (after-school care) and the public school “OBS Het Volle Leven” in the Hague.
The results from these tests was that 88% of the kids 6 years and older wanted to play the game again. The vast majority also wanted to play the game at home and on holiday with their parents. Teachers of the public school “OBS Het Volle Leven” were impressed and very enthusiastic about the level of involvement, cooperation and fun that the game released in the class room.
The teachers realized that this family-game is very suitable for the class room. It is for example possible to use alternative rules and only practice formula’s with multiplication and division. In addition, the children learn a lot from each other’s formula’s. They are constantly making calculations, even when it is someone else’s turn.
The social aspect is important as well. How do you react when someone makes an error in their formula? From our tests it was clear that the children helped each other in a good way and that despite the competition effect, a “bonding” was created. The instruction at the beginning to all the children is important to create this effect.
“We are confident that playing Formula regularly on holiday will ensure that the maths skills will be more likely to improve than decline.” – Alon, founder of Formula.
It is well known that when students come back from their summer holiday, they have forgotten a lot of what they have learned in the previous school year. Not only in mathematics, but also for example in reading.
Of course, there are several apps to prevent the so-called summer dip. However, parents often already have to do their best to keep their kids away from a screen. Formula is a fun alternative. The best in maths doesn’t necessarily win, which makes it so much fun because different age groups can each play at their own level.
Children (and adults) often think that they are not good in maths. Before even seeing the equation, they already give up. It is great to see that Formula changes this. Winning a game gives the children the feeling they can do it. If this is accompanied by a compliment from a teacher or parent, the self confidence increases and their maths skills improve.
The summer dip during the school holidays does not get the attention it deserves. Teachers often lose a lot of time re-teaching the skills that their students should already master.
Already in 1908, the first scientific research was done on this phenomenon in the US. Research from 1996 shows that students in America lose on average 2.6 months of mathematics lessons during the summer holiday. More recent research from Austria (2015) and Sweden (2001) confirm the existence of a summer dip.
Formula Games B.V. will perform its own research on the effect of Formula on the summer dip.
Aydin Cihangir, director of the Netherlands Mathematical Institute and of “Foutloos Rekenen” (=Error-less Calculations), has become a fan of Formula. “Mathematics you learn in school or even better, at a course that we give called “Error-less Calculations”. In addition to school and our course, Formula gives something special. It keeps the knowledge active in a playful manner, increases the insight in and creativity with numbers. We recommend it to all our students”.
Besides the base-game, there is also an expansion pack. With the expansion pack, the base-game can be made more challenging. It is e.g. possible to add fractions and/or negative numbers. Many children (and adults) find calculations with fractions difficult. Formula provides a nice alternative way to practice calculations with fractions. Children that can be challenged even more can also play with negative numbers, square and square root.
Is Formula needed?
In 1995 the average Dutch student scored very high in mathematics compared to other countries. Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) published their research results for the first time that year. The Netherlands came out as number 5. In 2015, The Netherlands dropped to number 19. This is not only the result of other countries performing better, but also because the level in the Netherlands dropped.
The game is not only innovative, but has also been developed in a sustainable manner. We challenged our producer to adjust their process in order to abstain from plastic in our packaging. Sven de Laaf: “As a design studio, it was our task to challenge the client and the producer to make the product as sustainable as possible. Sustainability was one of the design principles in the design process. The result is not only that the product is plastic free, but also that the expansion pack fits in the package of the base game”.
Formula is positioned as a Family game. If you are thinking: “This is fun! I want to make this available to all my students and/or teachers”, then the design team has built in several options whereby we can customize and personalize the packaging. Everything is possible in consultation. Of course, this does entail extra costs.
It is clear that this seemingly simple game has been thought through very well. That is why we think the slogan “Count on your brain!” Is very appropriate for our Vives readers. You can buy the game at https://www.formulagames.nl and in the better toy shops. Costs? EUR 12,50 for the base game. With the coupon VIVES2019 you get a 10% discount if you order before the end of June 2019.