Algebra Challenge

The University of Washington Center for Game Science and DragonBox use an adaptive version of the algebra games to challenge students around the world


In June 2013, the Center for Game Science (CGS) at the University of Washington launched the first Algebra Challenge using an adaptive version of DragonBox Algebra (a combined DragonBox Algebra 5+ and DragonBox 12+). The goal of the challenge was to excite young learners about math and maximize exposure to pre-algebraic concepts, along with learning crucial insights to improve how the subject is being taught. The special, adaptive form of DragonBox Algebra was crucial to reach these goals. By adjusting to a student’s progression, the modified game allowed players to remain motivated while collecting insights for researchers to better understand how and where students struggle with mastery.

School children play DragonBox Algebra in the Algebra Challenge

Key Takeaways from the Algebra Challenge

Students who played 1.5 hours reached 92.9% mastery*

Nearly 93% of students were able to master concepts to solve linear equations in under two hours.  Traditional methods require hours of teaching time and result in significantly lower levels of mastery.

Majority of 3rd graders can learn algebra

Algebra is usually a subject that is covered in middle school and high school, due to its preconception for being advanced content  The Algebra Challenges found that 80% of 3rd graders can learn algebra.

(Really) no child left behind

Final results show that slow learners need up to 5x more material than faster ones to reach mastery.  The adaptive nature of the challenge allows for those gaps to filled for the various levels found in a classroom.

Homework happens naturally

Motivation is key when it comes to learning. Norwegian students were so engaged during the challenge, they chose to continue to play DragonBox instead of being assigned homework.  In parallel, the media coverage the event as being “cool” making learning algebra cool by association.

Built in feedback

Feedback, or assessments, are the key to any learning process. DragonBox Algebra allowed each assessment to provide the appropriate next step in the student’s learning progression.

Challenges by the Numbers

Washington State Algebra Challenge - June 2013

4,192 K-12 Students
429,053 Equations
7 months 11 days 13 hours learning time
Official Website

Challenge Summary
Stem Wire Coverage 
Video Coverage


Norway Algebra Challenge - January 2014

36,106 K - 13 Students
7,675,643 Equations
Official Website

Minnesota Algebra Challenge - February 2014

4,189 K-12 Students
429,053 Equations
Official Website

France Pilot Program

61,198 Equations
1 month 2 days 1 hour learning time
Official Website

The most recent Algebra Challenge was hosted in Uruguay in September 2016 with the results still pending.

*In this study, two levels of mastery are distinguished.  When used in this document, the term mastery indicates the first level of mastery, labelled “Mastery” in the graph. Additional learning resources to transfer game mastery to pen and paper mastery are offered to teachers.

Mastery means that a student can solve equations such as: x*a/d+ b = c/e
Hard mastery means that a student can solve equations such as: a/cx + b/x = d