Articles Tagged with: education

Project-Based Learning Meets Video Game Design

By Chris Magnuson

On Monday, April 24, Dig-It! Games launched the 5th Grade Challenge App to commemorate the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Educational Foundation’s 5th annual production of an innovative fundraiser. But more importantly, we were joined in the lobby of the AFI Silver Theater by a host of 8th graders who were showcasing their versions of the app and websites.

“Are You Up to the 5th Grade Challenge?” is an engaging game show that welcomes community leaders to test their wits against the challenging 5th grade curriculum of MCPS in order to raise money for programing in the district’s elementary schools.  The unique spin of this format is that there are about twenty 5th graders representing a number of MCPS elementary schools on stage to help steer the contestant to the right answer. Yolanda Pruitt, Executive Director of the MCPSEF, wanted to commemorate the 5th year of this unique event and she had a vision for students and families to take this game-show home via a mobile app.

Pruitt secured the funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute but her next step was to find a local game developer to make it happen.  That is where Dig-It! Games came in!  But she had one additional request and which was to include students in the building of the game.  We were up to the challenge!

Dig-It! Games teamed up with Argyle Middle School for Digital Design and Development to engage 8th graders in this project.  We have always interfaced with students through studio visits, playtesting and career day conversations but this was the first opportunity our studio has had in making a game with students! Argyle is a unique magnet program that was the perfect fit.  Eighth graders study Game Design, Web Design, Digital Coding, Digital Art and Video Production and we have managed to incorporate each class in the creation of this project!

Our education team took the lead in coordinating the project but everyone in the studio has been involved.   Our developers visited with Game Design classes to engage students with the design specifications and run through a paper prototypes.  Our artists visited Digital Art classes to coach students through the design and production of art for the many of the questions in the app.  Video Production students filmed every time Dig-It! visited classes and they are producing a recap video of the whole project.  Finally, Web Design students made websites to host the app and tell the story of how the app was made.  We have engaged students in all aspects of the mobile game’s development but the most fun has been sitting down with students to actually play the game and see their eyes light up when they see their own artwork and ideas present in the game-play!

Building this mobile game was a challenge but with some help of innovative 8th graders at Argyle we were up to it!

Download the app today! http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/schools/argylems/5thGradeChallenge/

 


Games to Prepare for Testing

April is a busy time of the year, and it also signifies that the school year will soon end. The end of the school year means one thing in the education field, review of all content material cover in the curriculum to help students prepare for their end-of-year projects and assessments. What is the best way to prepare students? Some teachers use review packets and drill practice worksheets. However, the best way to review the content and prepare for testing is to have students play games! 

At Dig-It! Games, we have numerous games that help students review standards in the intermediate and middle school grade levels.

 

Loot Pursuit: Early America is a great game for 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade students to practice math computation and U.S. History standards on Jamestown. 

 

 

Exotrex Episode 1 allows students to review concepts taught in Physical Science and Earth Science standards. 

 

 

Excavate! is a series of ancient civilization games on the social, cultural and economic standards of the cultures of Maya, Egypt, and Mesopotamia through ancient artifacts.

 

Games allow students multiple attempts where a state assessment/end-of-year test only gives the student one chance with the material. Games enable students to play with concepts and materials taught during the year in a quick, safe and easy way to help students practice and cement the information they are reviewing. For all students no matter the grade, there is a lot of curriculum covered in a school year, and a subject specific game can allow students to fail at concepts while practicing over and over again until the student and the teacher feel that they have mastered the concepts needed to pass the yearly assessments.

As the end of the school year nears to a close and those state tests draw closer, make sure your students are ready! Check out our games as well as others to help your students prepare for their final assessments!

 


The Power of Experiential Learning in Social Studies Class

Oregon Trail and Games Photo Credit: SomedayTrips.com

Gather a group of folks of a certain age and mention the word “dysentery” and an interesting thing happens: eyes light up and people talk animatedly about wagons overturning in the river, sacks of beans and bad choices that led to everyone starving. An odd response for such a horrible disease, but of course it’s the reference to the game Oregon Trail that evokes such a deep seated, emotional response. What is it about Oregon Trail that had such a profound impact on so many of us that we clearly remember the experience years later?

Oregon Trail stemmed from the realization that kids learn more when they are learning about real people doing real things. Although we as teachers all know that deeper learning happens when students see and experience life and culture, time and curriculum constraints often limit social studies classes to focusing on major events, dates and important people. With the recent focus on STEM (and STEAM), social studies has taken a back seat, further limiting teaching resources. At Dig-iT! Games, we believe this is a dangerous oversight: STEM is absolutely vital to our kids’ success, but kids desperately need the tools that social studies courses provide. Our students need to learn to analyze, categorize, process and communicate, and evaluate the motivation behind an action. These skills have become even more critical in our current environment, where opinions are often mistaken for facts.

Captured at High Desert Museum Bend Oregon Photo Credit: Somedaytrips.com

It’s All About Experiences

Part of what made Oregon Trail such an effective teaching tool was that it was structured as a game. Playing wasn’t about passing a test, it was about finding a way to get little Mary and her family to the end without a catastrophe. Embedded in that experience was a variety of important information: certain foods are more nutritious or more durable than others; wagons are complicated machines that needed as
much upkeep as a car does today; diseases were far more deadly in the past than they are now due to a lack of effective medication, etc. Learning was seamlessly blended with gameplay. Certainly, students learned about the dates the Oregon Trail was used, its geography and its significance, but they also had a first-hand look into the very real hardships of the people who used it. That emotional connection to historic events is extremely powerful, as evidenced by the number of people who remember what they learned from a short game they played as children decades ago.

The evidence shows that when one makes an implicit connection between information and themself, it is more likely the information is remembered later. Immersive games like Oregon Trail ask players, “What would you have done in that situation?” This is more powerful than just physically reading a textbook and absorbing the facts because of its emotional connection and cumulative learning effect. It forces students to draw on what they know and requires them to think differently about the information they’re receiving. They are able to see history as a story made up of patterns and repeating trends, not just a list of facts to memorize. That helps make the topic relevant to students and encourages them to apply those analytical skills to the world around them. When history becomes immediate instead of theoretical, it turns into an adventure instead of a chore. History taught in an immersive way helps students become engaged, excited and eager to learn more.

Why Use Digital Games?

As Oregon Trail illustrates, the value of a game is in what we take away from it, not in the game itself. It is in that individual engagement where electronic games win out over traditional games in a classroom setting. Digital games combine graphics, audio and movement into a coherent whole. These games are interactive and immersive, forcing the player to be truly invested in the outcome. Players are encouraged to strengthen weaker skills, while simultaneously taking advantage of their proficiencies. Electronic games level the playing field, allowing all learners to engage deeply and internalize ideas in the way that suits them best. So regardless of how a student best processes information, she/he will be able to learn the same thing as someone who operates differently.

Our educational system is, unfortunately, not designed for individualized teaching. The cycle of lectures, mass-produced textbooks and standardized tests emphasizes consistency and conformity. Digital gaming can change that.

Digital games provide an environment where kids can learn at their own pace and in their own way. It’s much easier to admit strengths and weaknesses when no one is watching. Games are inherently flexible; they encourage experimentation, trial and error and failure. In no other learning environment are kids encouraged to fail and learn from their mistakes, even though every teacher knows the best way to learn something is by doing it (and failing a few times). The immediate feedback in games lets players determine for themselves what they need to do differently, allowing them to internalize the lesson. Students can practice skills they feel uncertain about, or move ahead to new things while the teacher focuses on students who are struggling with a topic. When students are put in an environment in which they can learn their way without fear of judgment or penalty, they become what every teacher strives for: independent learners.

What to Look For in a Game

Effective educational games bear certain hallmarks that should be known and considered. Here are a few key elements to look for in a solid learning game experience:

Purpose-aligned learning. Learning games that clearly show a student that they can use what they learn for a future purpose instill a level of confidence and willingness in that student that makes teaching and learning look effortless. Such games are carefully developed; look for those clearly aligned to a future purpose for the student and never again hear ‘But when am I ever going to need to know this?’

Content area knowledge. The gaming industry is crowded with games of every variety. While zombies and guns are popular, what you are looking for are those games that actually help a student along an academic course in science, social studies, music, art, etc., because ‘Zombie Hunter’ is not a real job listing. Scientist, educator, project manager, curator, artist are all real-world possibilities and while standards are a great guideline, more importantly, the future is what we make it.

Opportunities to explore. In educating a child, their self-determinism, the opportunity for them to look in wonder and to make a choice, one that they feel may be correct or interesting or one that merely satisfies their curiosity, is precious. Games provide a unique opportunity for children to explore and investigate things that are specifically of interest to them. There is a certain pleasure in learning new things, and even in going over the familiar, especially when one is in control of that learning. Look for games that provide the student situations in which they can choose a path forward and in which they control the level and pace of exposure to new information.

Multiple cognitive skills to problem solve. Even simple games engage multiple skills. Shooting zombies involves coordination, strategic thinking, and often collaboration with other players. Those skills are important, but literacy, mathematical knowledge, and comprehensive understanding of particular content are more useful in the long run. Good games are cross-curricular; they combine two or more curriculum areas into an engaging whole. These games put students in situations where they must draw on information and skills learned in multiple classes, an ability that will serve them well in college and the job market.

We Need Your Help!

Oregon Trail was groundbreaking when it was first introduced and continues to be the gold standard against which all history games are measured, but digital games have improved dramatically since its first introduction in the 80s. Certainly, graphics are much better quality now, but the biggest shifts have come on the data side: games track progress and some games allow teachers to see the student’s progress so they can tailor lessons or extra work to specific needs. Games are also easier to make and to distribute, both a positive and negative change: more games does not inherently mean better quality games and it is still a challenge to find games that align to a specific curriculum. We need your help to continue improving the quality and variety of games.

First, we want to know what you are teaching and where the gaps are. Do you have particular content areas you wish you had more resources for? For example, we know there is a lot of coverage for the Revolutionary War, but not so many resources for teaching Mesopotamia or ancient irrigation. We want to make high-quality games that help you engage your students better and follow your curriculum. If you have ideas for games or would like to be part of a discussion about key areas of curriculum you think games would be useful for, please email our Education Team (elisab@dig-itgames.com).

Secondly, we know Game-Based Learning (GBL) can be useful in the classroom but measuring the success is often challenging. Some games provide no learning outcomes and those that do are typically in proprietary systems requiring educators to log-into and learn separate learning management systems. Learning outcomes from one vendor cannot be easily compared with other games as there is no core standard. We believe that there is a need for a unified dashboard that standardizes the collection, reporting and analysis of learning outcomes across the GBL industry. We have received a grant from The National Science Foundation to develop this standard and build a unified dashboard. We want to know how data collection in games (or lack thereof) affects your thinking about GBL and your purchasing decisions. Additionally, we need your help developing a universal dashboard that reports data from multiple products in a useful way for your needs. If you would like to be part of this exciting project, please contact us (info@dig-itgames.com).

We hope you will participate in one or both of these initiatives. With your help we can move the game industry forward and create better products that match with your curricula and meet your data reporting needs.

A former archaeologist and middle school teacher, Suzi Wilczynski is the founder and CEO of Dig-iT! Games®, an independent developer of interactive educational games for kids. Through a seamless blend of fun and learning, Dig-iT! Games seeks to foster the joy of intellectual discovery and inspire kids to think differently about learning.

 

 


Can Spring Break be *gasp* educational?

It’s the bright spot at the end of a long, gray winter for millions of Americans – Spring Break. If you are looking for sunshine and clear, blue water then look no further than the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Cancun, Riviera Maya, and Tulum all are very popular locations for an amazing getaway. What most people don’t know is that this area is also incredibly rich in history and culture and offers a chance to explore an ancient civilization. Get a head start on that exploration by playing our games featuring ancient Maya!

While the area around Cancun is spotted with ancient sites, the biggest and most well known is Chichen Itza. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the massive Maya pyramid known as El Castillo. You can wander the well-preserved massive complex of temples and ball courts and even catch a light and sound show every night. There are many tour companies and options to visit Chichen Itza and typically you can add in another site (Tulum, Coba, Ek Balam) . Be prepared as these tours are typically all-day affairs, but well worth it! Some of them will include tour guides, but some will not.

There is also a little-known site right in the Hotel Zone of Cancun called “El Rey”. The entry fee is a whopping 50 pesos (about $2.50 USD) and you can climb and explore all of the ruins. You can also pay about $5 for a guide to show you around and explain the details. This is a great option if you don’t have the time or money to go to a bigger site.

If you decide that this is a the right opportunity for you and your family, consider preparing your kids to see these sites and be even more engaged. Currently, Dig-It Games has 3 games about the ancient Maya: Mayan Mysteries, Excavate!, and Loot Pursuit: Maya. All of these games will let children explore the sites and artifacts. This way, they will have some knowledge of Maya traditions and the location even before setting foot at the site.

Allow your child to be the expert and guide you through the sites. The amazing part of game-based learning is they won’t even realize how much information they are acquiring. They’ll be so excited to show you what they learned! Check out our game store for more.


Memorize the Solar System!

What is the best way to teach students about the solar system? As an instructor, what instructional methods might you choose to present the content? The traditional method chosen is to have students read about the solar system from their science textbook or do you choose to utilize Game-Based Learning? The first method can be dry, impersonal, and depending on the year it was published, inaccurate. Some instructors will infuse text readings with primary sources, such as articles, videos, and photos from or about space to help students visualize and understand the content better. These additions will supplement and heighten instruction to encompass visual, spatial, linguistic and auditory modes of learning.

After teaching about the solar system, many students are required to show proficiency on an assessment or project. To prepare for this, one method chosen by students is to make flashcards. This form of learning or memorization only works for some students; one such proficient example of this form of learning is the brilliant four-year-old Brielle. Watch her here on the Ellen Show!

But as all seasoned teachers know, flashcards are not a tool that works for all students. What all students need are hands-on experiences that allow students to explore and apply the new information found in their schema. Now, this can be hard to do while learning about the solar system, being that the closest planet, Venus, can vary from 38 million to 261 million kilometers away. This presents a problem if we want students to apply new understanding of concepts learned to real life examples.

One solution is virtual reality. Pairing traditional methods of instruction with game-based learning can lead to amazing results. Games are digital learning tools that allow a student to apply their knowledge while playing and analyze the outcomes to determine if concepts need to be revisited and reviewed in a non-threatening environment. Losing a game does not hold the same negative stigma that a bad grade on an exam holds. A student can play and replay a game until mastery of the concept or level is achieved!

Within this format, a teacher will be able to gather and determine their student’s performance and therefore determine areas that need to be reviewed and which areas show mastery. This method of instruction is called Game-Based Learning and it is proving to be a great way to blend curriculum standards with interactive learning fun.

To learn more about Game-Based Learning check out the infographic below from www.online-education-degrees.net.

To explore the solar system, check out our new educational digital game; ExoTrex Episode 1 and begin the journey incorporating Game-Based Learning into your classroom!


Summer Learning Loss Campaign #gogolearn

Summer Learning Loss

Fighting Summer Learning Loss with Games

Note: This is an early preview of our Summer Learning Loss Campaign – On July 14th all the details will be updated here.

At Dig-It! Games®, we are committed to improving education. As our corporate mission states, “we believe in the power of games to change how kids learn by promoting critical thinking, independent learning, and cultural understanding. Our games incorporate age-appropriate content in math, science, social studies and language arts into fun, interactive and engaging learning experiences. Through our seamless blend of fun and learning, we seek to foster the joy of intellectual discovery and inspire kids to think differently about learning.”

The education community has recently come to understand the true value of game-based learning and games are being regularly integrated into curricula. Currently, half of all K-12 teachers are using games in their classrooms in a meaningful way. These educators recognize the value of games in their students’ learning experiences and the potential of using the data collected by digital games to improve students’ learning and create personalized learning environments. Teachers are finding that games are effective in improving executive function skills, 21st century skills, technology skills, Literacy and Math skills, and more.

Unfortunately, those most in need of our products are often least able to use them. Teachers report that digital games help low-performing students catch up and motivate them to learn more. Digital games not only improve student performance, but positively impact student behavior and attendance. But the digital divide remains, making it a challenge for the students who could benefit the most from game-based learning to gain access to digital learning products.

At Dig-It! Games®, we recognize this challenge and are working to help close the achievement gap. We have spent the past several months rebuilding our infrastructure to provide access to our products from any device on any platform. This device-agnostic approach meets kids where they are: on their phones and other mobile devices. Although bandwidth and data access remain a problem for many students in America, we are happy to be taking steps in the right direction. Our games are also now available on Chromebooks, a more affordable option for schools and parents both.

But we can do more. Every summer, low-income students lose 2-3 months of academic skills compared to their higher-income peers. These gaps in math, reading and other skills add up: by 5th grade, students can be as much as 3 years behind! Summer Learning Loss is real, and affects low-income students disproportionately. Dig-It! Games is joining a national movement to eradicate Summer Learning Loss. Led by the National Summer Learning Association, partners around the country are hosting Summer Learning Day events on July 14, 2016 to raise awareness for this vital educational initiative. To learn more about Summer Learning Day or to find an event near you, visit http://www.summerlearning.org/summer-learning-day/. Dig-It! Games will be hosting an event to raise awareness in our community. We hope you will join us at on July 14, 2016 at Veterans Park in Bethesda.

It’s a great start, but we believe we can do even more. Games are a perfect tool to prevent Summer Learning Loss and keep kids engaged in learning throughout the summer months. Games build content knowledge, problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, and so much more. Plus, they’re just fun! Who doesn’t want to be an archaeologist, or search through Maya pyramids or explore space in an engaging game? However, we realize that the students who are most affected by Summer Learning Loss can’t afford these fun experiences. So we are proud to announce our new “Get One, Give One” initiative.

Through “Get One, Give One,” for every game purchased or downloaded this summer we will give a game to a low-income student. Download a Dig-It! game from the iOS App Store or download or buy a game on our website  and we will donate a game to one of our partner organizations to distribute to a child in need. Any game. Free or paid. Big or small. We’re serious about fighting Summer Learning Loss, but we need your help.

If you are or know an organization that can benefit from this campaign you can submit an application here.

As an added incentive, the initial donated game will be our brand new science game ExoTrex™, which with a pre-release retail price of $5.99. So, buy ExoTrex™ for yourself and know that a child is receiving access to a high-quality science game they couldn’t otherwise afford. Or play Excavate!™ for free and that child will still get ExoTrex™ to improve his/her chemistry skills before school starts back up in the fall.

The more you Get, the more we Give. So spend your summer building your vocabulary, exploring the Maya jungle and excavating artifacts! With 10 games to choose from (and more coming this summer), there’s something for everyone. Why not try them all? The kids suffering from Summer Learning Loss will thank you.

EXOTREX Summer Learning

Excavate

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Summer Learning Loss. Don’t let your kids slip down the “Summer Slide”

Summer is here and you know what that means: summer break for your kids. No more waking up at the break of dawn to sluggishly get dressed for school, no more rushing out of the house in hopes of making it to the bus stop on time and no more eight-hour school days. Summer vacation to many kids include sleeping in, watching television, playing games and spending a bulk of their time on social media. Now, while we completely understand the excitement for this lackadaisical lifestyle, this can lead to a more serious issue: summer learning loss.

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Summer learning loss, also known as the “summer slide,” has been a topic of discussion amongst parents and educators for a while now. This term describes the loss of academic knowledge throughout the span of your child’s summer break. Studies show that the problem is particularly acute among low-income students who lose an average of more than two months in reading achievement in the summer, which slows their progress toward third grade reading proficiency.

 

Aside from idle time aiding in summer learning loss, many view video games as a contributing factor. The vision of kids laying on the couch with their eyes glued to videos game for hours at a time, is enough to make some cringe. But contrary to popular belief, video games can actually assist in the learning and developmental process of children. Recent research has proven that gaming can increase brain function, problem solving skills, spatial reasoning, memory, attention span, strategic planning, and even social skills.

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We believe in the power of game-based learning and its ability to enhance education through promoting critical thinking, independent learning and fun with intellectual discovery. Our games and those from other developers can fill part of the learning gap this summer while blending fun and education together.  However, we realize that the students who are most affected by Summer Learning Loss can’t afford these fun experiences.  So we will soon be announcing our new “Get One, Give One” initiative (#gogolearn) to help those most affected.  Stay tuned for more on this program and how to be a partner next week.

Explore our game on the Apple App store and our game store library to explore summer learning with games.  Our newest game ExoTrex!, designed for students ages 12 to 15, takes players on a space mission that promotes learning and fun through the subjects of Chemistry, Astrophysics and Space Science. Exotrex! is a perfect game to reinforce these topics covered throughout the school year or for parents to expose their kids to these subjects prior to starting school. We are excited to announce this game will be available in mid-July. In the meantime, slide over to our library of educational games, ranging from archaeological excavation games to challenging vocabulary games, so you can be the first to know when ExoTrex! becomes available.

 


My Student Blew Me Away!

Developing games to support our mission of bringing the benefits of game based learning to the classroom is often a challenge.  What should be the next game we create?  How do we balance education with fun? How do we help teachers get the professional development they need to use games in the classroom effectively?  The encouragement we get from our users, reviewers and testers give us constant reasons to face these challenges, but it is the personal success stories that remind us why we do what we do.

This article is about Lisa Lewis, an education consultant that only recently decided to explore game-based learning.  She chose our top selling game, Mayan Mysteries™, to use with one of her students.  Mayan Mysteries has been recognized by reviewers as a best-in-class educational product, including a run as the #1 featured product for ages 9-11 on the Apple App store.  Here, Lisa shares how the experience of using Mayan Mysteries was not only eye opening for her, but also such a rewarding way of learning for her student.  If you ever thought the value of game-based learning in the classroom was a myth; this story might make you realize it is time to explore.

From: Lisa Lewis – Education Consultant

To: Dig-It! Games

A student I tutor, who is currently a 5th grader reading on a 3rd grade reading level, and is riddled with all types of learning challenges, showed me a thing or two the other day.  I thought I would try something different with him and I introduced him to Mayan Mysteries on my laptop.  Thinking to myself, there is no way that this student will be able to read, let alone comprehend the detailed information, I was hesitant to give it a try.  But I also thought how would I know if I didn’t give it a try.  The main question in my head was “How is he going to be able to maneuver his way through unfamiliar territory?”  I certainly was not going to be any help, because this was so far from my own comfort zone.

As the student logged into Mayan Mysteries, I could tell he was intrigued by the graphics.  His face lit up, as it has never done with me before.  He is so accustomed to our structured lessons each week.  We practice old and new vocabulary words, we read a text together and talk about it, and then we write using a prompt and a graphic organizer.  I didn’t scaffold anything for the student about Mayan Mysteries.  I merely said, “see what you can do”.

As he entered the Mayan civilization, he clicked through a few things to get to the actual listening and game part.  He listened intently to the voice as it read the very complicated text to him.  He watched with bated breath and totally disregarded anything I said to him.  I was merely giving him encouraging thoughts as he continued to listen.  Once the reading section was completed, the student proceeded to click on things and move them around on the screen according to the directions he was given.  Once he had everything in the places he believed they should be, he clicked something and the words “You Were Successful” came up on the screen.

 

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He continued on for another two parts of the game and was once again successful with both parts.  I stopped him for a moment to say congratulations.  I also asked him how he knew what to do.  He couldn’t really tell me how he knew what to do.  I was assuming it was merely instinctive for him to know what to do.  I told him I was proud of him for maneuvering his way through the three parts that he had gone through.  I told him I knew it wasn’t easy, but that he did a great job.

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I asked him what he thought of the game.  He said it was different than most of the games he had played.  I also asked him if he learned anything.  He said yes, but had a difficult time elaborating about what he had learned.  This is pretty typical of this student.  He usually gives one or two word answers and has a very slow processing time, as well as a severe memory issue.  He cannot recall for me what he has done earlier in the day at school, unless it is related to his Chrome book or what he has done during recess.

I consider this to be a big Aha moment for me and for the student.  He realized that he could accomplish something new and different.   He also realized that video games could be both educational and fun.   I learned that after all these years working in large groups, small groups and individually with children, that kids can still blow me away with what they can do when it comes to technology.  Just another teachable moment for me!


Learn more about game-based learning from our FETC 2016 workshop slides


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3 Cheers for STEM Night!

You’ve probably heard the acronym STEM used more and more lately in relation to education. You probably also know that it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. But what do those subject areas really mean for education? Why are they important? How do they help kids learn and grow, in and out of the classroom?

 

A few years ago, Education Week published an article online stating that “STEM is more than just a grouping of subject areas. It is a movement to develop the deep mathematical and scientific underpinnings students need to be competitive in the 21st-century workforce.” That’s also what President Obama said in 2010 when he set a clear goal for STEM education: motivate and inspire American students to excel in STEM subjects so that within the next decade, they will no longer be in the middle of the pack for STEM achievement but leaders of a competitive global community.

 

“This movement goes far beyond preparing students for specific jobs,” the Education Week article goes on to say. “STEM develops a set of thinking, reasoning, teamwork, investigative, and creative skills that students can use in all areas of their lives.”

 

A school STEM Night is a great way to include families, educators, and the community in supporting students’ ability to do just that. On Tuesday, March 22nd, Bethesda Elementary students in grades K-5 get a chance to display their STEM projects at the annual STEM Night celebration. With the help of teachers and parents, students chose topics they were interested in learning more about. They applied the scientific method to a hands-on investigation that produced results. They worked individually and in teams to build creative displays that will communicate their discoveries to the STEM night audience.

 

STEM education is close to our hearts at Dig-It Games. We’re a company that uses technology to produce video games that teach and support these vital subjects. We are deeply invested in the national dialog on STEM, and we believe in the power of game-based learning to promote STEM education in schools and new and fun ways.

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We loved being a part of Bethesda Elementary’s STEM night last year. Dig-It staff members Dayle and Steve ran our exhibit table as well as checking out and admiring students’ STEM-related projects and getting a chance to interact with parents, educators, and especially kids. Their favorite part of the night was seeing how excited students were to play, and meeting parents who were just as excited as the kids! Some kids ditched their parents for the games right away, some kids didn’t want to let go of the games, and some kids competed with their parents! In fact, there was so much interest that we ran out of devices for visitors to play on.

 

This year, we’re honored to be invited back again, along with C3 Cyber Club, KID Museum, Under the Sea‘s mobile aquarium, and Montgomery County Public Library. We’re bringing more devices and more DIG folks. We will also be exhibiting some of our unreleased titles before they are seen by the general public. Students can comment and give feedback on a game-in-progress, which is known in the industry as beta testing, an essential part of product development. This little bit of behind-the-scenes insight fits right in with the STEM movement’s goal of motivating kids to pursue intellectual curiosity, and equipping them for hands-on, innovative problem-solving.

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“We love events like this where we interact with our end users,” says Dig-It Games president Suzi Wilczynski. “Being around students, parents, and teachers helps us to make sure that our games are meeting the needs of those whose opinions we trust and follow. It also supports our belief that game-based learning enriches education by encouraging critical thinking, independent learning, and the joy of intellectual discovery. Bethesda Elementary’s STEM Night is an event we look forward to attending.”

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“We’re thrilled that Dig-It Games has again partnered with us,” says Kenneth Tercyak, a co-organizer of the event. “Bethesda Elementary students enjoy learning about computer science and its application to game design. It’s a great way to help build their interest in STEM and STEM careers.”

 

Follow STEM Night as it happens at https://twitter.com/bethesda_es.