Increase Student Engagement with Osmo for Schools!

January 11, 2021 / Educator Resources

Research has long been pointing to evidence that increased student engagement leads to improved academic performance – specifically, active learning (Hake, 1998; Knight & Wood, 2005; Michael, 2006; Freeman, et al., 2007; Chaplin, 2009), and increasing student engagement, critical thinking, and better attitudes toward learning (O’Dowd & Aguilar-Roca, 2009; Wardlow, 2017).

When students use Osmo in centers, station-rotation models, or during individual instruction time, they become interested in the mechanics of making Osmo function the way they want it to. Telling Osmo “what to do” includes creatively solving problems, communicating, and collaborating with peers. For example, when students play Osmo Numbers, they want to pop the bubbles that show up on the screen. This is not only the object of the game, but students are drawn to the challenge of popping as many bubbles as possible.

The only way to pop a bubble is to create a math equation using counting, addition, or multiplication that solves for the number inside the bubble. While the reasons why students are drawn to popping all these number bubbles remains to be scientifically proven, anecdotally it’s because “the bubbles make a cool sound when they pop”, or “we get more points with the more bubbles we connect”, and most importantly “it makes me feel like I know how to do math”. This desire to pop number bubbles translates into some serious student engagement in the classroom. Teachers who use Osmo Numbers as part of their supplemental curriculum for math have given a resounding “YES” when asked if they saw an increase in student engagement learning. The elaboration to that “yes” led us to believe that it was more than just a “sure, they’re having a good time”, rather an authentic expression of engagement. 

One seasoned kindergarten teacher in Minnesota started using Osmo at the beginning of his 14th year teaching. He reported his students achieved their quarter 4 benchmarks during the last half of quarter 3 and he was able to work on First Grade benchmarks throughout quarter 4. He said that kind of academic progress in math had never happened before in his classroom and he believes it’s because his students were always so engaged during practice using Osmo Numbers.

An ELL teacher in Missouri did her Masters of Education thesis on the effects of Osmo Words on ELL students. The study she did shows that students assigned to play Osmo Words had an overall vocabulary assessment growth over 40% higher than students assigned traditional worksheets. She credits Osmo Words for the huge jump in vocabulary proficiency in her students (children with a range of ELL needs). She says that her students “are learning so much more from playing than from other teaching methods and approaches” and that having Osmo in her classroom has been “a win-win for [the] students and for their English proficiency progress.”

A special education teacher in California knows that in order for her students to succeed, hands-on learning is crucial. The implementation of Osmo games has made it so that her students can better build their academic and teamwork skills. This teacher credits the engagement learning with Osmo for her students’ successes.

A technology coach for a district in Virginia makes sure each teacher in grades K-5 knows the impact Osmo has online student engagement and throughout the school year offers mentorship on how to get the most out of it in the classroom. He tells his teachers “The most powerful thing about Osmo is the engagement.” He then shares his experience with a group of 4th graders who weren’t consistently able to identify important figures in Virginian history and often failed unit tests because of it. To help these students, he had them use Osmo Words as a means to solidify the identification of Virginia historical figures and saw an “immediate and dramatic” jump in the retention of these difficult facts.

When students are engaged, they’re more likely to retain concepts and have a better attitude towards those concepts. In other words, when learning is more like play, students perform better. With Osmo, engagement happens organically, making it easy for students to WANT to practice essential skills and becoming successful.


Strong, R., Silver, H.F. & A. Robinson, (1995). Strengthening Student Engagement: What do Students Want (and what really motivates them)?, Strengthening Student Engagement, 53(1), 8-12. 

Cronk, M. (2012). Using Gamification to Increase Student Engagement and Participation in Class Discussion. In T. Amiel & B. Wilson (Eds.), Proceedings of EdMedia 2012–World Conference on Educational Media and Technology (pp. 311-315). Denver, Colorado, USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved July 8, 2020 from

Wardlow, L. (2017). The Science Behind Student Engagement. Pearson. Retrieved July 8, 2020 from

Yildirim, I. (2017). The effects of gamification-based teaching practices on student achievement and students’ attitudes toward lessons. [Abstract] In IHEDUC, Department of Educational Sciences, Harran University, Sanliurfa, Turkey. Retrieved July 8, 2020 from