Articles Tagged with: STEM

Things to Do Over the Winter Holidays!

Winter break is coming up fast! What can parents do to help their kids stay active over the holiday season? We’ve got a few suggestions for fun and education (and usually both!) that you might add to your plans for the next few weeks. 

Entertainment over Winter Holidays

sledding is just one activity you can do over the winter holidays

The holiday season is the time for sweets! Make some of your own with your kids. If you want to go above and beyond, make it into a bit of a chemistry lesson too. Check out Cookie Science as a place to start. Changing the recipe really is the same as performing an experiment. Learn how to make the perfect cookie.
Movies come out in droves over the holidays. Next week’s post will be about upcoming holidays movies, focusing on a few in more detail, but it’s a great season for family movies and ones with serious Oscar buzz. Check out the schedule of what’s coming out this month.
End the year with New Year’s Resolutions, of course. Make a list with your kids about goals you want to accomplish and things you want to do in the coming year. Here’s a few ideas for helping your kids come up with resolutions they can accomplish. Make some of your own, too, whether that’s taking more time for yourself or taking more time for work. Get ready!

Education over Winter Holidays

Get your students into archaeology with Excavate!

We just put together an entire post of winter-themed STEM activities to do with your kids last week. Take advantage of the weather as you can for fun chemistry experiments and science crafts. If more kids are visiting for the holidays, these can be a great group activity to set up for them.
Of course, if it gets too cold out there, our catalog of educational games are always a great option. Let your kids outside virtually with Excavate! or let them explore outer space with ExoTrex

You Might Also Be Interested In:


A Winter Wonderland for STEM Learning

Winter is a great time of year to get hands-on with STEM activities, science experiments, and more! Don’t let the cold keep you from making discoveries and learning about the way our world works with activities for all different weather and climates.

Snow Science!

winter science experiments

For something easy, think about demonstrating molecular structure through melting ice in different forms. STEAM Powered Family has a great experiment which involves packing ice, snow, and liquid water into jars to see which will end up with the most liquid.
No snow in your area? Try making your own to experiment with, even if you can’t make enough to make a snowman or have a snowball fight. Left Brain Craft Brain offers a few different recipes for making snow.
For something a little more decorative, make a snowstorm in a jar or grow some crystals. A Dab of Glue Will Do has all the instructions for the former- it can teach kids how a snowstorm works without bringing them out into one! For crystal making, grab some pipe cleaners or a pine tree branch along with other ingredients listed on Little Bins for Little Hands.

Hot Cocoa and Sweets

Hot chocolate and winter stem

Of course, sometimes it gets too cold to do anything with the snow outside. On those days, try out one of these tasty science experiments that help your kids learn and make them feel like they’re getting a treat!
There are a lot of things you can do with hot chocolate, from having a race to making it bubble up in surprise. You can also make hot chocolate themed slime to play around with.
Candy canes are another one to play around with. Test how fast different types dissolve or how fast they dissolve in different temperatures of water. It’s even possible to re-bend candy canes into different shapes through an experiment.

Stay Indoors with STEM Games

ExoTrex2 screenshot from stem game based learning

Our educational games are always evergreen, making them the perfect STEM activity for cold winter days or any other time of the year! Pick up the ExoTrex series for your kids to explore the galaxy, learning more about the way space works. It’s a great supplement to STEM activities in any season.

You Might Also Be Interested In:


Moments from History in the Month of November

November 2: First Long Duration Stay on ISS Begins

Expedition 1 was the first long duration stay upon the International Space Station. The 3-person crew lived in space from November 2000 to March 2001, a total of 136 days. The crew consisted of American commander Bill Shepard and two Russians named Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev. To this day, the ISS remains an important part of space research.

November 4: King Tut Day

On King Tut Day, we celebrate the discovery of King Tut’s tomb by archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922. King Tut became ruler of Egypt at the age of ten and died in his teens. Before the discovery of the tomb, nobody knew much about the boy pharaoh as there weren’t many records. Therefore, the discovery was a monumental event in Egyptian history.

November 8: Theodosius Buried

In 395, the Romans bury Emperor Theodosius in Constantinope. During his tenure, he officially declared Christianity to be the official religion of the Roman Empire, Unfortunately, he was not particularly tolerant of those practicing other religions. While he was first only emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, he conquered the other half to become sole ruler for the last few years of his reign. He died of disease.

November 12: First Selfie in Space

In 1966, Buzz Aldrin takes the first space selfie in history. This was, of course, before selfie was a commonly used word. He used the camera using EVA (extra-vehicular activity) equipment to take a picture of himself. While Buzz Aldrin may be known for his trip to the moon, he took many more expeditions into space than that.

Learn More History!

To get into more history, check out our catalog of educational games! There’s stuff there for STEM and social studies, so, no matter your interest, we’ve got a game for you to try!


National Chemistry Week 2018

Next week is National Chemistry Week 2018! National Chemistry Week is an annual event hosted by the American Chemistry Society across the nation in order to get kids interested in the field. Each year has a new theme: last year’s was Chemistry Rocks and focused on geochemistry. This year, Chemistry is Out of the This World!

To get you started celebrating this event, we collected resources and pulled out a few highlights to get you started on planning the week. Check it out!

National Chemistry Week Events

National Chemistry Week 2018

The ACS has plenty of tips when it comes to organizing events in your area for NCW. From recruiting volunteers to getting access to local venues, and more, the resources on the website are meant to help teachers and interested parties prepare for the week!

The community event for this year is planning a trip to a planetarium or science museum. Find one nearby and bring your kids or students there to learn about outer space! It fits into the year’s theme of Out of This World. Use an established tour, make one yourself, or see if its possible to customize the experience to the age group you’re targeting. You could even scale it down to a visit to the local library to check out books about outer space.

Chemistry Experiments and Activities

If you don’t want to organize a field trip for the event, try out some suggested activities and experiments instead. In honor of National Chemistry Week, the ACS holds an illustrated poem competition. Consider inviting students to join for a full on STEAM activity. There’s even a prize for the first and second place winner. Check out all the requirements here.

If you would rather stick with an experiment, the ACS has you covered on that regard too. Their Celebrating Chemistry packet is full of themed experiments. Students could make their own UV wristband or even create oxygen. They’re all relatively easy to set up, so see what might work for you.

Out of This World with ExoTrex!

Of course, we can’t get through an event about space travel without throwing our own space exploration learning game into the mix. ExoTrex casts players as an astronaut trying to find a new home for humanity in outer space. Chemistry, physics, and more are all included in the experience, so try it out for yourself to see how the game can enhance STEM education in the classroom!

You Might Also Be Interested In:


Easy Autumn Science Experiments

Autumn is the perfect season for science. The leaves change color, fall fruits and vegetables are harvested, and everybody gets a little spooky for Halloween. Using all these characteristics of fall, we’ve compiled several ideas for science experiments to carry out with your students or your kids.

Not every experiment will work for every age group, but we hope you find something to bring some seasonal STEM into education!

Easy Experiments with Leaves

Leaves and science experiments

Leaves are plentiful and often beautiful during the autumn season. As for why that is, use a science experiment to help your students understand why the leaves change color during the fall. There’s nothing quite like seeing something in practice.

If you’ve got kids or students who are more creative types, set them to making leaf people. They learn about how to preserve leaves at the same time. Instead of the beautiful colors fading to brown and the leaf itself getting crunchy, you’ll get fun leaves to stick up on the walls of the classroom or a fridge at home.

Glow in the Dark Science

Glow in the dark science experiments for fall

Get a little spooky in honor of Halloween and make some glow-in-the-dark projects with students. Make glow-in-the-dark pumpkins for an afternoon of fun and your scary decorations out of the way. It also gets rid of the mess of carving pumpkins, meaning that there’s less set-up and clean-up to take care of ahead of time.

If you’d rather have the traditional jack-o-lantern experience, there are still ways to get into glow-in-the-dark science experiments too. Make art with glowing exploding paint bags or glowing bathwater for the little ones (especially on one of the remaining warm days of the season).

Apple Science Experiments

Science experiments with apples

Apples are the fruit of autumn. Apple picking alone can be a fun time to have with the family, but adding some simple science on top can be even better. Make an exploding apple-cano for some excitement, or use toffee apples to examine changes of state and get a delicious treat.

For something even simpler, ask your students to conduct science experiments to see why apples float or why they turn brown

Head for Space with ExoTrex

exotrex 2 game space ship

If it’s too cold to go out and do science, stay in and explore the outer reaches of the solar system in our ExoTrex series. ExoTrex teaches players what makes a planet hospitable for humans. As you’re experiencing the changing of the seasons, appreciate what makes our Earth so special.

You Might Also Be Interested In:


Educational Escape Rooms: Benefits, Examples, & More!

What is an Escape Room?

It’s pretty likely that you’ve at least heard of escape rooms. Companies that run escape room puzzles have begun to crop up everywhere across the country. Nowadays, nearly 2,000 escape rooms exist, compared to twenty-two at the end of 2014, according to Room Escape Artist. Generally, these puzzles limit themselves within physical spaces where players must work together to escape from the locked enclosure. Players find pieces, move contraptions, solve riddles and more to make it out.

However, all the fancy mechanisms simply make up the aesthetic flair. Actually, creating an escape room or escape room-style puzzle is easy. All you need is something to unlock and some puzzles that players must solve that will help them unlock that something. While it may not end up as fancy, anyone can make an escape room around any topic. Including teachers! And including you!

Educational Escape Room Benefits

educational escape rooms are great in classrooms

Escape rooms teach valuable life skills that are highly applicable to education. A student needs to practice teamwork, time management, problem solving, focus under pressure, and respect. Escape rooms encourage all these valuable traits. Additionally, the puzzles that make up an escape room can be created around a theme which correlates to the class it’s presented in.

Of course, the implementation itself proves challenging sometimes as teachers must grapple with standards, classroom size, and class period length. Yet, there are a number of ways to combat this through using boxes instead of the room itself or using pre-made escape rooms from educational escape room companies.

“The concept of meaningful gamification is not to provide external rewards, but rather to help participants find a deeper connection to the underlying topic,” writes Scott Nicholson, a professor of game design and development at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada. Escape rooms provide motivation and give students a reason to try and understand and connect with the material.

Find Resources for Your Classroom

For making your own escape room, try out this advice from Classcraft. It has tips about how to use the physical space, how to make puzzles, how to order puzzles and more. Some subjects are harder to design than others since math has a lot of opportunities for puzzles and social studies less. However, it is possible to design for any subject.

Many companies also offer pre-made escape rooms that can be easily implemented into classrooms. Breakout EDU (which we talked about on a blog post before) is a great resource for finding games that can be brought to any subject, complete with provided locks and boxes for students to work with. The Escape Classroom is another option (they also have a mystery-style workshop!) and Lock Paper Scissors has simpler printable guides to use for easier set-up.

Educational Games Are Great Too!

Escape the room or catch a thief

Our educational games were designed with C3 standards in mind for math, social studies, and STEM classes. While not as physical as escape rooms, bringing game-based learning in to the classroom is also a great way to give students motivation and engage them with learning. Our upcoming game Roman Town 2 casts the player as Team Q. They collect clues and solve puzzles to track down a thief rather than escape. However, the concept of solving problems remains the same!

If you’d rather get something for yourself, make sure to keep an eye on Roterra, our upcoming map-traversal puzzle game. Roterra will challenge your own mind and keep your brain working. Follow along with its development by signing up to be a beta tester on the game by going to the game page.

You Might Also Be Interested In:


Women’s History Month: Female Space Pioneers

Female Space Astronauts, Cosmonauts, and Mathematicians

As we continue through Women’s History Month, we take a look back at some female space pioneers. The women served in all kinds of roles from helping build rockets to riding in them. No matter their position, all the women featured here cemented their position in space history through their many accomplishments.

Katherine Johnson and the Mathematicians of NASA

At the beginning of World War II, the demand for aeronautical engineering began increasing exponentially. Langley Memorial Aeronautical Labratory began hiring women in 1935 to do number crunching. Margot Lee Shetterly’s 2016 book Hidden Figures told the stories of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan along with many others. Additionally,  the critically acclaimed 2017 movie based on the book focused on these “human calculators.”

The women highlighted in Hidden Figures worked for NACA (later NASA) starting in the 40s and 50s. Through their math, they worked on making the flying machines better, stronger, and faster and calculating flight trajectories for important missions, including the Apollo missions.

NASA recognized Katherine Johnson specifically in 2017 through naming the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility after her. Without the research and dedication of Johnson and her contemporaries, NASA would not be the same as it is today.

The Very First Woman in Space

The first female space explorer- first woman in spaceValentina Tereshkova orbited the Earth 48 times and became the first woman in space in June of 1963. Before being chosen as a Soviet cosmonaut, she never even flew a plane. Rather, she was a textile worker and amateur parachute jumper. The latter skill earned her the job. After eighteen months of grueling training, she became the only woman out of five to be selected.

Beyond just being the first woman in space, she remains the only woman to ever fly a solo mission. Since her mission, Museum exhibits, stage plays, and documentaries celebrated her space legacy . Additionally, she carried the Olympic torch for part of its journey in both the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Sally Ride: Female Physicist and American Astronaut

The first American woman to go to space and the youngest astronaut everSally Ride blasted down barriers as she blasted into space in 1983 as the first American female astronaut to actually enter the final frontier. She served as a mission specialist on the STS-7 space shuttle mission. As a mission specialist on that flight, Ride worked a robotic arm to help release satellites into space.

After her time as an active astronaut, Ride continued to work in the STEM field, particularly in encouraging STEM education. She wrote books about space exploration and co-founded Sally Ride Science in 2001. Her work with the organization aimed to support students into careers within STEM, particularly girls and minorities. Through teacher training, books, festivals, classroom activities and more, she sought to transform the idea of what a successful scientist could look like. Even after her death in 2013, her legacy continues.

The Women of ExoTrex 2

ExoTrex2 stem game character concept of female space operativeWhen looking to engage students in STEM learning and space exploration, look no further than ExoTrex 2, a game that will test their physics, chemistry and critical thinking abilitities. Exotrex 2 is a beautifully rendered, STEM focused game that will challenge and engage your 8th – 10th grade science students.

The player partners with the AI Fiona and supervisor Dr. Estelle Burke, a female space pioneer herself, to find a new home for humanity. To complete this mission, students start by balancing speed, thrust, and acceleration while navigating gravitational fields to successfully land rovers on their chosen planet or moon. Also, they remotely navigate their rovers to collect ground and atmospheric samples and later analyze them for their chemical compositions.  Finally, Students will learn about the planetary characteristics of each destination and take observational notes in order to report their findings back to Dr. Burke. 

Help get your students passionate about space with these profiles of female space history-makers and by going hands-on with ExoTrex!

Get into Space with ExoTrex 2
Buy The Game
You Might Also Be Interested In:

Computer Science Education Week

Computer Science Education Week

Computer Science Education Week was December 4-10 this year. This annual celebration focuses on the importance and promotion of computer science classes in US schools. According to their website, csedweek.org, there are over 400,000 computing jobs available in the country right now and only 42,969 computer science students graduated into the workforce.

Working at a video game studio can definitely make one see the importance of this subject and the wide-ranging effects it has on daily life. Our office ranges in background from computer science majors to philosophy and education majors. Even with this range, computer science makes an impact on all of us.

Here’s what some of our team members had to say:

“Computer science helps me think logically, in life as well as at work. Because a computer only does exactly what it’s told, computer programmers must be very precise in their language, syntax, and style. This analytical mindset is beneficial for a number of real-world skills, including verbal and written communications, long-term planning, and problem-solving. Computer science is powerful because it’s given me the tools to succeed in many aspects of life.” – Reuben, Junior Developer

“Computer science allows me to create anything in the world I want … artistically… imagine that.” – Mikel, Senior 3D Artist

“In the dark pre-Internet days, I fell in love with programming in early high school after finding a book on how to program real time computer graphics on my family’s primitive computer, and went on to earn a BS in Computer Science in college.  Computer Science is a very detail oriented discipline where you create computer programs to instruct the computer on how to improve a complex system or how to efficiently solve a complex problem.  For me, Computer Science is fun because every day I get to create complex systems, solve abstract problems, and design engaging experiences for players in games.  Also, I really enjoy being a part of a team with other talented programmers, designers, artists, and educators that all strive to make really engaging games for our players.” – Jesse, Senior Developer

“Both of my parents were computer science majors and imparted the interest in technology and education on me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. ” – Elisa, Education Team

Promotion of Computer Science

In an effort to promote computer science, Dig-iT! Games often hosts field trips from student groups who want to see what we do every day. These experiences can really open the eyes of students who think that a career in computer science is boring or out of reach. If you are a teacher and are interested in a field trip (either in-person or virtual) please don’t hesitate to reach out. Check out our about page for more information about what we do and our mission-based philosophy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


World Space Week 2017

World Space Week iconThis week marks World Space Week which runs from October 4th to October 10th. The theme of this week is “Exploring New Worlds in Space” which, according to their website, “…serves to inspire the World. It puts as a focal point astrobiology missions like New Horizons (NASA’s first mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt)” They also mention projects like Space X and Lockheed Martin’s Orion Multi-Purposed Crew Vehicle which all look to explore human interaction and inhabitation of space.  

This year we saw the dramatic Grand Finale of the Cassini space craft after a 13-year run orbiting Saturn, its moons, and rings. The craft was launched on October 15, 1997 and spent 7 years on a journey that took it near Venus, Earth, through the Asteroid Belt, around Jupiter, and then finally reaching orbit around Saturn. That was just the trip there!  

ExoTrex 2 is perfect for World Space WeekCassini also dropped off the Huygens Probe onto the surface of one of Saturn’s moons, Titan. This was the first time a craft had landed on the surface of an outer solar system world. The probe showed scientists a landscape that looked very similar to Earth’s with rivers, volcanoes, shores, and seas. However, the liquid is not water, but methane and ethane! 

Other discoveries included an ocean under the frozen surface of Enceladus, seven new moons, new images of massive storms at the poles of Saturn. After years of orbiting Saturn, power was beginning to run low so the team made the decision to send it into a death plunge. Scientists were worried if the power ran out that the craft could smash into one of the moons and cause damage so they decided to plunge it into Saturn’s atmosphere where it would burn up and lessen any potential damage.  

Our space exploration game, ExoTrex 2, uses some of the information we learned from the Cassini mission. In ExoTrex 2, players explore Venus, Mercury, and the moon Titan. They perform experiments, one of which is landing a rover on the surface of Titan! They must balance thrusters against the gravitational pull to accurately land it and then explore the cryovolcanoes and landscape of Titan to figure out if it is suitable for life. 

World Space Week was recognized by the UN General Assembly in 1999 and celebrates the effect of science and technology on the world each year. We support these initiatives and hope that our ExoTrex series can help to spark interest in these fields for the future generations. 

 

 

 


The Total Eclipse is a Start

Millions of people will look skyward today to witness the solar eclipse. The orbit of Earth and our moon have never been on so many minds at the same time.  During this event, we are experiencing something together on Earth as a united humanity.

 

ExoTrex and the eclipse

Exotrex2 – Dig-It! Games

Space has fascinated people from the dawn of time. People from the past spent nights gazing at the heavens and creating meaning from the milky way. For travelers, stars were used as guideposts.  Ancient civilizations used them to predict seasons, align temples and marvel at the periodic events like the eclipse we will soon witness today.  Not only do we witness this collectively today, we also connect to our ancestors who were sometimes deathly frightened by events like solar eclipses.

 

Our understanding of what is happening today comes on the shoulders of ancient and current astronomers. Over the course of lifetimes, they studied and observed space.  No longer are we fearful of what we are about to observe.  In fact, we are welcoming this once considered sign of doom-and-gloom.  We here at Dig-It! Games are also excited to be witnessing this rare event and one of our colleagues has been walking around with eclipse glasses in his pocket for weeks in great anticipation!

 

Space and the eclipse

Exotrex2 Dig-It! Games

We have many people to thank for our current understanding of space and we have been fortunate at Dig-It! Games to have teamed up with an amazing astrophysicist in the making of our game Exotrex.  Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi is an accomplished astrophysicist, cosmologist, inventor and currently an educator working with NASA who became the voice of our main character Dr. Gerald Burke.  It was great to work with him on the first episode of Exotrex and also to introduce him to students at Roosevelt High School in Washington, D.C. to share his love for science and his life’s journey!

 

Exotrex challenges students to train as astronauts in preparation for an epic journey to find a new planet after life on Earth has become unsustainable.  It is an exciting and challenging program that prepares students for this harrowing mission.

Gameplay from ExoTrex

Exotrex2 Dig-It! Games

However, the fun and challenge does not stop there!  It is with great pleasure that we announce that Exotrex2 is now available for you to play!  Continue the quest to find a new planet for humanity by traveling to Mars, Titan, Mercury and Venus and explore the physical and chemical composition of each destination.  Collect your evidence and report your findings back to Dr. Burke.  Carefully land probes on distant planets, navigate land rovers to collect planetary samples and analyze their chemical composition all while exploring the entire solar system!  It will get you up in the stars much like our ancestors would have liked to do and much like many of us would like to do on a day like today!

After you watch the eclipse, get inspired and journey through space by playing Exotrex2 Today!