Touchscreen desks have the potential to help young students with math, researchers from Britain's Durham University discovered.

In a three-year SynergyNet project, researchers tracked more than 400 children at 12 schools, reports. Multiple students ages 8 through 10 gathered around the desks to solve a math problem together. Instead of using paper and pencil, they used their fingers and an on-screen calculator.

The desks connect to a smartboard for display if a teacher chooses to pull a student's work up. And teachers also see a live stream of their students' math problems. That way, they can quickly see who needs help to get on the right track.

Over the three-year time period, 45 percent of the desk-using students created more unique mathematical expressions than they did at the beginning. Sixteen percent of paper-using students did the same.