Tech start up Enabling Play launch pioneering new app to help children with Down Syndrome get better at math (Video)

The amazing adventures of Millie Moreorless demonstrates how technology can make learning maths fun and empowering for children with learning disabilities

Millie Moreorless is an innovative new game for iPad and iPhone co-designed with children with Down Syndrome to ensure that it is inclusive and accessible for players of all abilities. As they help the space adventurer Millie Moreorless explore beautiful alien planets, players practise and develop their basic number sense. Supported by leading Tech for Good funder Nominet Trust, the game provides a fun and visually stimulating learning environment, with a gentle difficulty curve, clear progression and lots of collectable rewards. To celebrate the involvement of children with Down Syndrome in the co-design and testing, the app, is being released to coincide with World Down Syndrome Day on Monday 21 March.

The game is based on pioneering scientific research in the field of Magnitude, our instinctive ability to identify whether one quantity is ‘more or less’ than another – without counting. This ability is believed by some scientists to be the foundation of all subsequent maths learning. However, research has revealed that children with Down Syndrome often experience significant developmental delays in this area. By helping players improve their magnitude sense, its creators believe their game will lay a foundation for children to learn the maths skills they will need to be independent in adult life.

Millie Moreorless is the first app from brother and sister team Will Jessop and Cara Jessop, co-founders of new accessible game design company Enabling Play. Children of all abilities and their parents have been at the very heart of the project from the start, sharing their opinions, imaginations and values throughout the design process, and testing iterative prototypes of the game to ensure that it is fun and accessible. This inclusive, participatory design is a key principle of Enabling Play.

Cara Jessop and Will Jessop, the co-founders of Enabling Play, say “Designing Millie Moreorless has been an incredibly rewarding experience. We believe that by allowing ourselves to be led by the young people themselves, we have created a game that is fun, engaging and inclusive. It is so important to bring players of all abilities into the mainstream. If we can help children with Down Syndrome get better at maths and lay the foundation for greater independence in adult life, then we will all benefit as a society.”

Vicki Hearn, Director, Nominet Trust says, “Nominet Trust provides grant funding to demonstrate the potential of the internet and digital technologies as a force for social good, particularly in providing opportunities and access to those who need it most. We’re delighted that our support for Millie Moreorless has helped to bring it to launch. We’ve been impressed by the evidenced approach used in the development of this innovative game, which will offer a fun and engaging way for the estimated 12,000 children with Down Syndrome in the UK to learn vital numerical skills, helping them to gain greater independence later in life.”

Millie Moreorless was developed in partnership with the BAFTA-nominated creative studio Made in Me and Dr Jill Porter from the University of Reading, who is using the game to conduct much-needed research into how children with Down Syndrome learn. The project initially received R&D funding and support from the REACT Play Sandbox.

Dr Jill Porter, University of Reading says “This is an important and unique opportunity to investigate how children respond to mathematical information in different learning contexts and to tailor resources to meet their needs. Our research has highlighted that learning maths does not have to be hard work. New technologies combined with creativity can be very effective in raising the achievements of children who struggle to understand abstract concepts.”

Millie Moreorless is available for iPad/iPhone from 17th March