Algebra Madness (from our “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” file)

Students in Norway have reportedly solved nearly 5 million algebra equations in a recent week-long national competition intended to help students improve their math skills.

According to Reuters, the Norway students used the algebra application Dragonbox, which turns the learning process into a game. The original goal of the Norwegian competition was to beat the previous record of 400,000 equations set by students in the state of Washington using the Dragonbox app, but that goal was surpassed within a few hours of the start of the Norwegian competition.

Dragonbox co-founder Jean Baptiste Huynh says that the Washington and Norwegian algebra competitions may set the stage for other national competitions, including one in the U.S. and another in Brazil.

According to the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), U.S. students ranked 36th in the world for demonstrating the highest levels of mathematics literacy proficiency, down from 31st place a year earlier.