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Fate and Fortune: A Story-Based Algebra Simulator of High Seas Trade

Award Information
Agency: Department of Education
Branch: Institute of Education Sciences
Contract: 91990018C0015
Agency Tracking Number: 91990018C0015
Amount: $900,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 99190018R0005
Solicitation Number: 99190018R0005
Solicitation Year: 2018
Award Year: 2018
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2018-05-10
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2020-05-09
Small Business Information
PO Box 2276
Taos, NM 87571
United States
DUNS: 004719997
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Scott Laidlaw
 (202) 245-7550
Business Contact
 Scott Laidlaw
Phone: (202) 245-7550
Research Institution

Purpose: This project team will fully develop and test Fate and Fortune, an online class-wide intervention where grade 8 students learn algebra within a story-based game. Research demonstrates that students who do not succeed in algebra are more likely to eventually drop out of high school. When students begin Algebra I, a lack of conceptually meaning and understanding can be further reinforced by curricula where math problems do not make sense in the context of their lives and interests.

Project Activities: During Phase I in 2017, the team developed a prototype including the core game mechanics for students to engage in the adventure backstory and initial problem sets. At the end of Phase I, researchers completed a pilot study with 35 students and three teachers in three grade 8 classrooms. They found that the prototype operated as intended, students were engaged, reported that the activities were fun, made them curious to learn more, and helped to connect math to their lives. In Phase II, the team will develop a fully-functional user interface, interactivity across student users, narrative scripts and accompanying art assets, problem sets, and student and teacher dashboards and databases. After development is complete, the research team will carry out a pilot study to examine the usability and feasibility, fidelity of implementation, and the promise of the game to improve learning. Eight grade 8 mathematics classrooms in four schools will participate in the study, with one classroom per school randomly assigned to use the game and the other half assigned to a business-as-usual control. The team will compare student scores on pre and post Algebra I learning outcomes aligned to Common Core standards.

Product: Fate and Fortune is a multi-player game-based intervention for grade 8 mathematics classrooms. The game is designed for use at the beginning of Algebra I, to address core concepts that provide a foundation for student success throughout the remainder of the course. Set in the Spice Trade of the 1600s, in Fate and Fortune students design ships while managing their own Renaissance-era shipping company where they travel around the world to purchase and sell spices. Rather than focusing solely on number calculations, the game employs a story-based narrative where mathematical thinking occurs naturally as students create, build, and solve problems to support understanding of algebraic logic and structure. As a multi-player game, students will interact with other classmates to complete trades that lead to encounters with different math problems. The game design architecture will work desktops and tablets and will include supplemental print materials. A dashboard will provide teachers immediate feedback on student progress to guide responses to individual learners and the collective classroom.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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