iPad Game System Osmo Wants To Make Learning Math Fun

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iPad gaming accessory Osmo announced on Thursday the launch of a Numbers game it hopes will revamp the unimaginative worksheets educators use to teach math now.

Numbers is an under-the-sea themed game where players have to come up with equations that equal a given integer using physical tiles. If they are successful, a trapped fish is freed from a bubble.

Though children increasingly have access to computers and iPads, the basic tool elementary students use to learn math hasn’t changed since the advent of the Xerox machine. The makers of Osmo think with this new game, they can change that.

Osmo first launched in 2013 as Tangible Play at Disrupt SF. Osmo is an accessory for iPad that allows children to play games with physical pieces outside the device. The company creates games like Masterpiece, which allows children to trace an iPad image on a physical piece of paper, and Tangram, a game where players organize physical tiles so that they match an image on the iPad screen.

With Numbers, Sharma said they hope to engage more children in math, particularly girls. The low diversity numbers reported at tech companies have sparked a national debate about the lack of women pursuing careers in STEM fields. The founders of Osmo, Parmod Sharma and Jerome Scholler, think engaging games like Numbers can help close that gap.

Sharma said they were inspired to move into math education by their own children. Sharma said he has a young daughter who seemed frustrated by her math lessons.

“I find very little of what has been done would actually make kids care about math,” Sharma said. “Math never experiments.”

He wanted to bring the same carefree fun to math, which is why they decided to make Numbers so players can come up with any equation that equals the integer. That way, children can learn there is more than one solution to a problem.

In addition to the new game, Osmo announced it would partner with education and textbook company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Sharma said the partnership will expand the number of schools where Osmo is available. Currently Osmo is available in 4,000 schools.

Osmo Numbers is available today. The Genius kit — which includes Numbers as well as Masterpiece, Words, Tangrams and Newton — retails for $99.