Title Refraction: Teaching Fractions through Gameplay
Country United States
Organization University of Washington Center for Game Science

Refraction is an online puzzle game for teaching fractions. Players must direct lasers to spaceships stranded in space while also providing the right fraction of energy. This requires using various tools that partition the laser beam into halves, thirds, and so forth. There are seven worlds divided into several levels, and the fractions grow in complexity with every level. The game was developed to help the many children who have difficulty grasping fractions improve their comprehension of the concept through gameplay.

It was a great pleasure to receive the Best Work award in the Primary Category. Refraction is the product of a creative team composed of a number of graduate and undergraduate students, developers and designers at the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington. It is the first of a series of games focusing on key bottlenecks in conceptual understanding of early math curriculum. Perhaps the most unique aspect of our project is that all of the games we are developing will be capable of uniquely adapting to each child and will present a variation of the game most suited to the child’s learning preferences and specific misconceptions. The games learn about the student as much as, or more than, the student learns from the game. Our long-term goal is to show that such games can be highly effective in making the challenging points in the math curriculum fun. We hope to eventually replace all math homework with game playing.
(Zoran Popovic)

Refraction provided a brilliant solution to a perennial challenge for both educators and students - bringing mathematic concepts to life in a rich environment that is fundamentally exciting while at the same time rooted in pure education. Refraction achieved this by creating a truly engaging game that, while based entirely on fractions, is fully enjoyable and challenging in providing a real-world gaming experience. The game has a very high playability factor that puts users in the world of math in a natural way that makes learning an intuitive process.  In addition, Refraction allows educators and advanced users to build and create new levels and challenges designed specifically for their curriculum needs.  Overall, we feel this game fully captures the spirit of the JAPAN PRIZE in its educational achievements.