A Site Worth Seeing: Freerice.com

“WARNING: This game may make you smarter. It may improve your speaking, writing, thinking, grades, job performance.”

This greeting is found on FreeRice.com, a website that allows visitors to simultaneously study vocabulary and feed Third World Countries. The website began on October 7 this year and has so far given more than six billion grains of rice to the needy.

Visitors choose one word from a list of four other words that is synonymous to the vocabulary term at the top. The site donates 20 grains of rice for each correct choice.

The site has increased the original amount of rice donated per correct answer from 10 grains to 20, a number it hopes will continue increasing.

Opening day saw 830 grains of rice donated. Within a week, that number jumped to four million. After mid-November, over 100 million grains are donated per day.

While the vocabulary game is playing, advertisements are produced at the bottom of the page. Money from the advertisers is used to pay for the rice, which The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) distributes. The website itself makes no monetary profit from any of the advertisements.

The system adjusts to the user’s level of terminology. By present the user with words with different levels of difficulty and then keeping track of how well the user does, it can assign a starting level to the user. Users can gain levels by consecutively selecting three correct answers, or drop down levels by guessing the wrong answer.

Level 50 is the highest level, though words such as “capote” and “uxorial” keep most users from getting above level 48.

“It definitely helps my vocabulary skills,” sophomore Jeffrey Gu said. “It gives you synonyms for words, so it helps you remember.”

Students who frequent the site do so not only to improve their word banks, but also to help a good cause.

“It’s cool that I can feed people just by answering vocab questions,” junior Eloise Duvillier said. “I donate about [1,000 grains] each time I go on FreeRice.com.”

The United Nation estimates that ending world hunger costs about $195 billion a year. FreeRice.com contributes to that goal by using money it ears from advertisements to save at least some of the 25,000 people who die every day from hunger or hunger-related causes. For those starving people, most of whom are children, each grain counts.

“To a mother or father watching a loved child die in their arms from hunger, the rice you donate is more precious than anything in the world,” the website said.

FreeRice.com proves that it is possible to learn and to feel good at the same time.