Graduate Student Dixie Ching Wins Prize for Videogame that Helps Children Learn Number Concepts

Dixie Ching, a doctoral student the Steinhardt School, was part of a team that won both the Impact and Collegiate prizes in the inaugural National STEM Video Game Challenge. The two awards carry a total cash prize of $50,000.

The entry, NumberPower: Numbaland!, produced with graduate students Derek Lomas of Carnegie Mellon University and Jeanine Sun of the University of California at San Diego, is a collection of four games that help children in kindergarten through fourth grade develop their sense of number concepts, or “number sense.”

The $25,000 Collegiate Prize was awarded to the best undergraduate or graduate student submission. The $25,000 Impact Prize, open to all categories, was awarded to the submission that has the greatest potential to reach underserved populations.

The competition was launched to support President Barack Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign, which is aimed at improving the participation and performance of America’s students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

“Three cheers for the National STEM Video Game Challenge for catalyzing this entertaining and educational approach to harnessing American ingenuity, all for the cause of science, technology, engineering, and math education,” said Aneesh Chopra, United States Chief Technology Officer, in announcing the winners. “It is efforts like these that will ensure our nation’s continued economic and technological leadership well into the 21st century.”

NumberPower is a suite of mini games designed to help learners develop a strong foundation of number concepts to support future learning in mathematics. Education researchers have found that tasks that help children relate perceptual mappings of magnitude (such as distance traveled and length of counting sequences) to their appropriate numerical symbols will improve a child’s number sense. The core concept of each NumberPower mini game is the translation of a magnitude from one representational form to another while seeking to enhance several mathematics abilities, including counting, group counting, and estimation of large numbers, negative numbers, fractions, decimals, and measurements. In addition, NumberPower features a back-end data collection system that provides quantitative measures of individual and group learning progress. The games will be available on different platforms, including the iPad, later this spring. The prototype may be viewed at

Ching is a doctoral student in Steinhardt’s program in Educational Communication and Technology.

(Photo: Dixie Ching, Screen Shot from NumberPower.)