Checking in with Last Year’s Stem Challenge Winner, Martin Esterman

Well, it’s been just around a year since I received an email that AdditionBlocks had won the 2012 STEM Video Game Challenge for one of the Educator entry streams. I have really enjoyed being a part of this contest, and thanks to the Cooney Center, PBS, and E-Line Media, a lot of doors have opened to promote the game.

Pretty quickly after receiving the news, I (practically) ran out to purchase an iPad2 and a MacBook to build for iOS devices. By July, I had the game running on the iPad and on the App Store. One of my co-teachers tweeted out the link to my game, and I had over 500 downloads that first week! (Unfortunately, still a free version! Ha!). I also upgraded to an Android SmartPhone, and the game was available on Google Play in August.

E-Line Media invited me to the 2012 ISTE conference in San Diego to showcase the game and speak at a reception they were hosting. I really enjoyed meeting and spending time with that group, and they treated me exceptionally well.

In November, I suggested my game to BrainPOP through a link on their site; after making a few necessary updates/modifications, I signed the agreement with them in March of this year. The game will be on their GameUp site shortly, and I will participate in a BrainPOP webinar at the end of the May.

Another exciting opportunity came from one of my students’ parents, who nominated me for the Channel 11Alive (NBC local affiliate in Atlanta, Ga) “Class Act” award. Donna Lowry, the Educational Correspondent for the station came to my classroom and filmed my kids playing AdditionBlocks!

I have plans to monetize AdditionBlocks, and have been working on the next version for a few months (I am still teaching!) and hope to have a $0.99 version on the AppStore and Google Play by this June. I contracted with a graphic designer to re-create all the graphics and sprites to give the game a more professional look and feel. The new logo is displayed at the AdditionBlocks Facebook page.

Overall, the year has been quite eventful, and I have felt so blessed and humbled being able to meet all the great people from the Cooney Center, PBS, E-Line Media and at my local news station. My wife, Stacy, has been a great support as well, and I know that I could not be continuing to pursue educational game development without her encouragement. This experience has motivated me to continue to develop new games, including “MultiplicationBlocks” and “IntegerBlocks” (also hopefully during the summer!) Thanks again for everyone who helped put  AdditionBlocks out there, and thank you for playing the game!

If you have not played the game yet, you can find the game at!


Martin EstermanMartin Esterman teaches seven grade math for the STEM Magnet program at Marietta Middle School in Marietta, Georgia. He has been with MMS for 10 years and has taught all levels of math learners-from advanced students two grades ahead to students below grade level. He has designed, implemented, and used all types of math games and number puzzles in his classes at every level. Before teaching, he was a software engineer for seven years. Martin was awarded the Outstanding New Employee at Marietta Middle School in 2002, and recognized as one of the initial Georgia Master Teachers by the Georgia Department of Education in 2005. He is the winner of the PBS Kids Ready to Learn Prize in the Educator Category of the National STEM Video Game Challenge.

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