NWO KIEM project Scientific games for education
Seed money project Utrecht University Focus area Game Research
(August 2014 - June 2015)

Commissioned by the Minister of Education, Culture and Science and driven by the increasing concern about the quality of mathematics education on Dutch high schools, the cTWO (commissie Toekomst Wiskunde Onderwijs, Commission Future of Math Education) started designing and testing new mathematics curricula for havo and vwo in 2004. An experimental program was tested in a relatively small number of schools across the Netherlands during 2009-2012, and now, from 2015 onwards, the new mathematics curricula will be implemented to all Dutch high schools.

However, as the cTWO report states, the renewal of the school subject has not yet been fully completed: especially the appliance of math in authentic contexts and the use of ICT in the classroom need further development, and while the use of mathematical thinking activities is off to a good start, it still needs further implementation. Hence, the cTWO recommends to follow up on the innovations that have been started in both of these fields.

In this project we aimed to respond to this call for further implementation by designing a first prototype of a 3D world that offers high school students a relevant authentic context in order to develop active mathematical thinking, one of the spear points of the new math curriculum for both havo and vwo. This relevant context is shaped by the history of mathematics, which is currently not a part of Dutch high school curricula. In the envisioned game, history, enriched with relevant heritage objects, will serve as a narrative to create practical, technical and scientific situations (contexts) in which math is used as a tool to solve a certain problem.

In the prototype we have developed during this project, we recreated a historical world: 11th century Isfahan, Persia. Our goal was to recreate an enchanting and engaging historical setting that could inspire immersive missions, problems, and puzzles. The next step is to implement these assignments as mathematical thinking activities.

Links to the preliminary results are below. In the near future, further developing wil take place in close collaboration with the House of Mathematics in Isfahan.


  • Trailer (Youtube)
  • 3D models (Youtube)

  • Prototype (downloadable .zip file)
    Download the .zip file, unpack it and run Isfahan.exe. Accept the installement of C++ and Unity.

    When the short movie of the building of the city is running, click P + your left mouse button. Now, in the upper left corner of the screen the word "play" appears. Moments later, the demo will start. Use W, A, S, and D to navigate and use either the mouse or the arrow keys to change the camera view.

    Please notice that both the .zip file and the .exe file are rather large, so the demo may not run as smoothly on all computers.