Client : Andrew Lockett
UX Design : George Grover
iOS Build : Joe Benton
Strategy : Sam Allen
Project Management : Anna Lundstrom
One of the many perks of working for a digital agency is that you get the opportunity to work with such a variety of clients and products. We never know who is going to walk through the studio door, (or more likely email) to require your services.
In April, Mr Lockett, a local teacher with a vision, got in touch to present his idea for an app that would help children grasp the concept of Algebra in an entertaining manner. The idea tickled our creative taste buds, and always up for a new challenge, we started outlining ideas for an app that could potentially achieve this on a tight budget.
Five months later we launched Astro Algebra – a space themed app where children play quickfire questions on a range of different algebra topics. Although aimed at children aged around 10-14, the app is also useful for adults and parents helping their children with homework in addition to being a useful learning resource for schools.
The app contains 10 different algebra subjects, each being represented by a planet such as ‘Missing Numbers’. The planets are made up of a Learn and Play section, with the Play section incorporating a Practise and a Challenge (game) mode.
Astro Algebra has recently been shortlisted as a finalist in the prestigious Bett awards in the Educational Apps category. The winners will be announced at the Bett Awards 2018 Ceremony taking place on Wednesday 24th January 2018 at Tobacco Dock in London.
Planning the Features
Although Mr Lockett provided all the questions and answers, we still had to get our maths hats on to develop the structure and assemble the questions, answers, countdown and point system.
A considerable amount of work went into planning the functionality of the app. Some of the features that had to be considered were:
- Structuring the data for the questions and answers from a JSON file stored within the application
- General logic for the functionality of the ‘Play’ screen. This includes running the timer during each question, tracking score for each correct/incorrect answer, randomise a selection of 10 questions and extra functions such as clear and confirm
- Format and layout for both multiple choice question and user input questions
- Individual question score popup as well as overall end of level score popup
- Storing current progress on each level along with overall score and remaining questions
UX / Design & Creativity
Regarding the look and feel of the app it was important to find a balance between child-friendly features such as large buttons, clear language and icons and a contemporary, clean design that would appeal to older children.
For the design concept we chose a space themed setting that we felt would attract both boys and girls as well as a wider age group. To appeal to older children we stayed away from very bright and vivid colours but included playful features like squared stars with a subtle twinkle in the background.
Looking at other Maths apps on the market there seemed to be a strong focus on those either aimed at young children or rather basic question-based apps, lacking in design and inspiration. To keep within budget the team had to limit the scope for design and technical features but at the same time try to achieve an engaging learning experience.
With built-in features such as; a rocket countdown, encouraging messages, personal resultboard, star achievements and a space cadet badge – we hoped that we had done enough to encourage replay and engage a digital generation accustomed to instant feedback and fast paced media.
Technical Functionality & App Logic
The app has been made in the latest versions of iOS and Swift and works on a variety of devices, for both iPad and iPhone.
The logic behind the game
For each game challenge players are given 10 questions, selected at random from 100 different topic questions. For variation and interest, the game comprises a mix of user input and multiple-choice answers.
1-4 stars can be earned per question, rewarding both speed and accuracy. At the end of the 10 questions the results board shows a breakdown of each question and a total result. If and when a user completes a topic earning 4 stars for all 10 questions they are awarded Astronaut status for that planet.
Finally to encourage users to explore a variation of topics, the overall Space Cadet badges unlock as users progress through the different challenges.
Launched and released on the Apple app store in September 2017, the app is available on both mobile phones and tablets, supporting iOS 9, 10 and 11.
Since then the app has achieved a 5 star app rating and great feedback from learners, young and old, but also from parents and teachers.
As mentioned above we are proud to find out that the app has been shortlisted for an award in the prestigious educational Bett awards. Whether we are awarded or not, we think this is a victorious project brought about from a successful collaboration with Mr Lockett, who provided high quality content for the app as well as a thorough professional understanding of the target audience.
The success of Astro Algebra has refreshed and revitalised our passion for building game based apps for both the consumer and b2b markets. Zeta is currently working on a Frogger style events app for Mouser Electronics to help them achieve better engagement with visitors to their exhibition stand and accomplish more efficient data capture.
Update: We loved working on the app and were lucky enough to be awarded the Horizon interactive Gold Award and the Bett Awards Highly Commended Award in the Education Apps category.
Download Astro Algebra here: