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Norwegian students blow U.S. algebra record away with 5 million equations

OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian students solved nearly 5 million algebra equations in a week long challenge, using an app aimed at popularizing mathematics among children whose maths skills have been steadily sliding in international rankings.

Students hoped to just beat the previous record of 40,000 equations set by students in Washington state using the Dragonbox app; but that record fell in just three hours, organizers said.

"This has been a mind-blowing experience for us," Dragonbox co-founder Jean Baptiste Huynh said as the competition came to an end on Wednesday. "No one has done anything of this scale on a national level before."

"The best part is that this is scalable. We hope to do a national event also in the US and in Brazil within a year. And then we might go global with these events," he added.

Norwegian students were ranked 30th in the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a big drop from 21st just three years earlier. U.S. students fell to 36th from 31st.

The Dragonbox app aims redefine mathematical language for games and adapt the learning process into game play for children in both elementary and high school.

Huynh, who left a well paid job as a fund manager to teach, now plans to launch a geometry game before summer.

The Dragonbox app has been downloaded more than 250,000 times.

Students in Minnesota will be the next to take the challenge, hoping to solve 250,000 equations in a week.

(Reporting by Joachim Dagenborg. editing by Ralph Boulton)

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