Prodigy is an online-based math game for grades 3-8. It is stylized after a Pokémon-like RPG, where students answer math questions to successful attack and capture monsters, as well as perform quests for gold and equipment. The game has moved on to more of a MMORPG model where students can select servers to meet up with friends and trade equipment and collectables.
It was founded in 2011 by University of Waterloo students Rohan Mahimker and Alex Peters. Both co-founders were enrolled in the Mechatronics Engineering program. Mahimker stated that research shows that students’ engagement levels by grade 9 are about 37% – a big drop from Kindergarten where engagement levels are around 90%. With this in mind, they set out to create a program that would increase engagement in the math domain. The game also is based upon the reactions/answers of the user to increase/decrease the difficulty levels of the math questions asked. It includes student analytics and the ability to control questions and topics by the teacher.
Mahimker and Peters received a $50,000 grant from the Canadian federal government to develop the game. The two appeared on Dragon’s Den in 2012 to try to raise a further $120,000 for 12% equity. They left without a deal after being countered with $120,000 for 50% equity.
According to Crunchbase.com, the company as of August 2014 does not have a current valuation, but has raised $1 million in venture capital through unspecified means. The game is currently free, however players can opt to join the Membership program for $9 per month or $60 per year. The team has 9 members, ranging from marketing to game design to web development.
On a personal level, I use this online program with my elementary classes. I have had students from grade 1 to grade 6 enjoy this program, and they can sometimes spend 10 hours on a weekend answering math questions! While I do not condone that amount of screen time, I find the engagement level high, they are never bored with the game (especially with the constant updating of game play) and math skills are easily tracked, in which I know what topics they need more attention on. The game includes all the math manipulatives one would need to be successful, which is a big bonus to students who need to learn with hands-on materials.
Crunchbase. Prodigy game. Retrieved from: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/prodigy-game#/entity
Gard, T. (2013). The mindshare learning report: Quick review – math made fun: Prodigy. Retrieved from: http://mindsharelearning.ca/2013/10/02/the-mindshare-learning-report-quick-review-math-made-fun-prodigy/
Mayer, T. (2012). No deal on Dragon’s Den for software developed with Brock students’ help. Retrieved from: http://www.brocku.ca/brock-news/2012/11/no-deal-on-dragons-den-for-brock-developed-software/
Prodigy game. Become a Prodigy member. Retrieved from: https://prodigygame.com/Membership/
Vialogues. EdLab groundbreakers: Rohan Mahimker, founder of Prodigy game. Retrieved October 2, 2015, from: https://vialogues.com/vialogues/play/12896/