SEEC Presentation

Game On!
Using Video Games to Teach STEM in the Classroom
Adrienne Evans Fernandez, Jamie Reaves Kirkley
4 February 2012
 Introductions
 Games as teaching tools
 Overview of the field
 Getting support from stakeholders
 AstroEngineer: Moon Rover (AEMR)
Review games and learning
Overview of AstroEngineer game
Review the AEMR Teacher’s Guide
Explore a demo of the game
Who Are We…..
 WisdomTools, Inc. creates serious games and elearning solutions for education and training
 Use entertainment game approaches that engage and
teach; game mapped to objectives and standards
 Focus on STEM-focused games that teach difficult
concepts in science, technology, engineering and
 AstroEngineer: Moon Rover (released Aug 2010)
 AeroEngineer: Race to Mars (TBR Aug 2012)
 NanoMech (TBR Fall 2012)
The Challenge of STEM
(Science, Math, Engineering & Mathematics)
 U.S. is not able to fill STEM-related job positions due to
lack of STEM graduates
 Many students lose interest in STEM-related courses at
the middle and high school levels
 Minority and female students are more likely to
discontinue taking STEM related courses (National Center for
Education Statistics, 2005)
 Minorities are underrepresented in high-level science,
technology, engineering and math occupations (Leslie,
Serious Games
 Serious games (a subset of computer educational
games) seen as a way to engage students in STEM
 Federation of American Scientists, Gates and
MacArthur Foundations, Woodrow Wilson Institute, etc.
 White House office examining educational benefits of
Advantages of Using Serious
Games in STEM
 Take students to space!!
 Reach students on their own terms; research shows they play
HOURS of video games at home each week
 Playing games motivates students, and motivated students learn
 Build student interest, engagement & learning in STEM
 Teach concepts not possible in real life (i.e., dangerous)
 Support inquiry-based learning
 Combine with hands-on and other types of activities
 Use games as part of project and problem based learning curricula
Serious Games & Learning
 Serious games can facilitate:
 Building interest and learning STEM content/careers
 “Strategic thinking, problem solving, plan formulation and execution,
and adaptation to rapid change” (Federation of American Scientists,
 Players are given opportunities for challenge, strategy and
problem-solving (Lazzaro, 2004).
 Well-designed games can support:
 Problem solving & decision making (Adams, 2006; Gee, 2003; Taradi,
Taradi, Radic & Pokrajac, 2005)
Active learning (Winn, 2008) and creativity
Complex systems thinking and literacies (Steinkuhler, 2008)
Experiments, inventions, & learning by doing (Rickard & Oblinger, 2004)
Team-based challenges/collaboration (Bourgonjon, 2008)
Creativity (Jackson et al, 2011)
Serious Games & PBL
 Games more effective when embedded in instructional
program that includes feedback and debriefing (Hays,
 Researchers have promoted the use of digital games
within problem based learning environments (Annetta, Cook
& Schultz, 2007; Kiili, 2005; Maxwell et al, 2004)
 Natural ties between PBL and games (Annetta, Cook & Schultz,
2007; Kiili, 2005; Maxwell et al, 2004)
 Both are learner centered
 Both provide authentic challenges to solve
 Both often require collaboration, negotiation, and problem
Disadvantages of Games
 Implementation:
Technical support
Learning and curriculum Integration
Clarity of objectives/standards met
 Monitoring learning and assessment
Assessment and monitoring of student learning
Debriefing and student report outs
Achievement of learning outcomes
 Buy in from admin, parents and IT
 Using games in ways that do not support effective STEM learning:
Game as reward only
Game as entertainment only
Babysitting tool
Little or no facilitation of learning in classroom
Games As Teaching Tools
 History of using games to support learning
 Oregon Trail, SimCity, Math Blaster
 Current games and virtual worlds
 River City, Wolfquest, Selene, Supercharged!,,
WhyReef, Quest Atlantis, Eco MUVE, Electrical Endeavors
 Similarities and differences between simulations, games
& virtual worlds
 Sims: First person, focus on realism/fidelity, algorithmic
formula with time and conditions as variables
 Games: Provide rewards, entertainment, learn by failure
 Virtual Worlds: Persistent world, interactive community
Tips for Gaining Buy In
 To get buy in from administrators and parents:
 Write brief letter or newsletter article on the specific game
and how it’s being used to support STEM learning in your
 Provide information on learning outcomes and provide
 To get buy in from IT:
 Provide information on technical requirements
 Have a back up plan in case Internet goes down!
AstroEngineer: Moon Rover
AstroEngineer: Moon Rover
 AstroEngineer: Moon Rover
is an educational video game
created to introduce middle
school students to the
engineering design process.
 Developed in partnership with
Project Lead the Way
(PLTW), a non profit that
provides middle and high
engineering curriculum to
schools in all 50 states
Project Lead the Way
 PLTW approached us in 2009 to
form a partnership.
 Gateway to Technology: Middle
school engineering curriculum
 Wanted a product that required
students to design solutions to a
problem and reinforce the cyclic
steps of the engineering design
 You do NOT have to be affiliated
with PLTW to use AstroEngineer:
Moon Rover!
Engineering Design Process
 Game play focuses on use of the engineering design
process to :
 Analyze mission requirements and key design
criteria/constraints for an unmanned lunar rover
 Design your rover to meet mission requirements by
choosing among various parts (e.g., body type, wheel
type, power source, and sensors)
 Test your rover by driving it on an authentic lunar surface
and under realistic conditions
 Redesign your rover until the mission is successful and
then move on to the next mission
Background of Game
 Set 30 years in the future, the
player is aboard the Goliath, a
manned lunar mobile base
stationed near the Mare Humorum
 Core challenge in the game is
design, test, and redesign a lunar
rover based on specific
engineering design criteria and
 Players design smaller rovers;
confronted with authentic lunar
terrain, hazards, and environmental
Overall Mission
Game Design
 The game itself consists of five sets of missions (a
tutorial, three regular missions, and a rescue mission)
 Each mission is comprised of 4 to 5 legs, each with a
different goal.
 Speed
 Durability
 Collection of samples
 Each leg will require a different configuration of parts in
order to be successful!
Rover Construction Area
Test Your Rover Design
Mission Feedback Screen
AstroEngineer Leaderboard
AEMR Problem-Centered
Curriculum Unit
 Week long teaching unit with:
 Game Introduction and Overall Challenge (10 min)
 How can the different design choices that you make impact your rover ’s
 What factors influence the design choices that you make?
 What strategies can you use to improve your rover design?
 Game Play (25 min)
 Debriefing (15 min)
What was the core mission today?
What design criteria you were given?
What design constraints did you encounter?
How did you optimize your design?
Classroom Implementation
 In a traditional 50 minute
period students are
expected to complete
about 1 mission per day
 On block schedules
students can complete 23 missions per day.
Scientifically Authentic
 Authentic
 Lunar Geography
 NASA Images
 Vocabulary
 Engineering process
 Includes Earth and Space science objectives,
 Characteristics of the Lunar environment
 Topographical characteristics and vocabulary
(regolith, rilles, mares, etc.)
 Specific locations and structures the game
visits (craters, rimae, etc.)
 Common elements and minerals found on the
As close as we could get..
 Design Simplifications:
 Rover Parts & Capabilities
(middle school audience)
 Speeds
 Pushing the Envelope…!
 Presence of Ice on the
Research Findings
 Research funded, in part, by NSF
 Pre/post quasi-experimental study conducted with 341
middle school students (~equal number of
males/females; racially diverse population)
 Females = 54.4% of sample
 Males = 45.6% of sample
 Students played for ~2 hours (113 minutes) over one
week period, or 45.2% of overall class time; does not
include game introduction and debriefing sessions
Research Findings
 Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted to
examine pre/post differences
 Results indicated statistically significant differences in
learning between the pre- and post-test (F [1, 681] =
475.135, p < .001, partial eta-squared = .411), with
higher scores on the post-test
 Both male and female students provided positive
feedback on the game’s design, ease of use, and
Supporting Educators
 AstroEngineer: Moon Rover™
includes curriculum support
 Teacher Guide
 Student Guide
 FAQs
 Lesson plans
 Enrichment activities
The Teacher’s Guide
 AstroEngineer: Moon Rover
includes documents to help
you and your students get the
most out of the game
 The guide includes
 Basic instructional and
narrative overview
 Learning objectives
The Teacher’s Guide
 Getting started FAQ
 Controls and parts
overview for teachers
 Mission flow charts
The Teacher’s Guide
 Standards Alignment
 Glossary
 General Moon Terms
 Engineering Terms
 Description of Parts
Student Guide
 Includes
 Game Overview
 Getting Started Tips
 Engineering design
 Glossary
Supplemental Activities
 Sometimes the internet
goes down.
 MINI Card Game!
Extension Opportunities
 Additional activities
that can extend the
Moon Rover game
out of the computer
 Tires for the Moon
 Cost Analysis
Release of AEMR
 AstroEngineer was released in August 2010 to over
6000 PTLW teachers and 60,000 students, as well as
2500 students in Indiana’s NASA IGNITE STEM
 AstroEngineer can now be purchased and downloaded
Let’s Play!
 When you get your drive, insert it into your USB port
 Select which version you want to install (MAC or PC)
and drag the file to your desktop. PLEASE NOTE: You
cannot run it from the drive!
 Double click to unzip (if needed), and have fun!
Contact us!
Adrienne Evans Fernandez
Lead Content and
Curriculum Game Designer
[email protected]
Jamie Kirkley
Chief Learning Officer,
Senior Instructional Designer
[email protected]
AeroEngineer: Race to Mars
 Serious game with five game modules and week-long
curriculum unit designed to interest and teach high
school students (10th - 12th grade), particularly females,
about core aerospace engineering concepts

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