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posted: Sun, Apr 19th, 2015

Game invented by MOMS parent teaches spatial reasoning

Quest Four, invented by a parent of a Mount Olive Middle School student, is a 3-D board game with a twist. And though it's yet to be mass-produced, MOMS students are already playing it to build their spatial reasoning and strategic thinking.

There are several variations to the game, but the most popular competitive version pits two players against each other. Players alternate placing pieces of four different heights onto a square checkerboard of four rows and four columns. To win, players must line up four of their own pieces either in height order, stacked in a pyramid like in the illustration at the top right, or in a row with pieces of the same size.

But here's the twist, and it's a literal one: After each turn, a player must rotate a quarter of the playing board clockwise. So not only do you have to anticipate your opponent's piece placement, you have to anticipate your opponent's rotation too.

"I tried to come up with something new," said Robert Brown, discussing the genesis of Quest Four. "There are very few games out there that involve all three dimensions – x,y, and z – and rotation. I think people will find it challenging and some people will find it's addictive."

One day Mr. Brown explained the game to Peter Hughes, the district's director of curriculum and instruction. Mr. Hughes immediately saw the educational potential.

In September, sets of plastic game pieces for district use were manufactured using the high school's 3-D printer. Mr. Brown then presented hands-on gameplay workshops to students in the middle school gifted and talented program. About four sets are currently in use now.

Dylan, Mr. Brown's son, is a seventh-grader in MOMS' G&T. Quest Four was originally developed so that Mr. Brown could have something special and engaging to play with his son. But not only is Dylan the inspiration for the game's creation, he is also its biggest fan. He's played the game so often he's even developed some signature moves like great chess masters do.
"It's fun and different than any other game I've played," Dylan said. "It's challenging and makes you think."

Mr. Brown hopes to fund game production through Kickstarter this fall. He is now planning the marketing campaign and working out production details using a local manufacturer.

For more information, go to QuestFour.com.

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Mount Olive Middle School
160 Wolfe Road Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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