Thursday, January 7, 2010

Video Games Take Bigger Role in Education

Children today grow up playing lots of video games. To get students interested in world cultures, molecular biology and space, educators are partnering with game developers and scientist to create interactive games for students.

The Federation of American Scientist (FAS) and Escape Hatch Entertainment created “Immune Attack” for 7th – 12th grade students to explore the microscopic world of immune system proteins and cells. According to the game developer students need to save a patient suffering from a bacterial infection as they learn about cellular biology and molecular science. Tad Raudman, a science instructor at University Preparatory School, thinks that if the games are designed to be engaging, exciting and competitive then the games can be tailored for educational purposes.

The (FAS), UCLA's Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative and the Walters Art Museum created “Discover Babylon” for 8 to 12 year olds to explore Mesopotamia in world culture using library and museum objects.

January 18, 2010, is the release date for “MoonBase Alpha” from ARA/Virtual Heroes, a downloadable prototype game that was developed with NASA engineers and astronauts to teach STEM (Science, Technology Engineer and Math) to students. “MoonBase Alpha” is a predecessor to a new multiplayer online game called, "Astronaut: Moon, Mars & Beyond," that will be released later this year. The goal of “Astronaut: Moon, Mars & Beyond,” is to provide an immersive platform that will have multiple curriculum modules for teachers to incorporate gaming into science, technology, engineering and math for school and to home according to Jan Heneghan, founder and CEO of ARA/Virtual Heroes.

Why such interest in educational gaming? Currently there are approximately 55.7 million children between the ages of two and seventeen that are gamers. That’s 82% of the children in the United States. The goal is to create educational, interactive experiences to more actively engage students in the learning process. According to Tad Raudman, only “10 percent of lifetime learning happens in the formal educational setting” so if students are playing games several hours a week think about the overall learning outcomes and benefits to students who played educational games.

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