Judy Crawford writes;
“It might resemble the hokey pokey, but these students doing arm circles, jumping jacks and dance steps are actually learning about nutrition and physics using whole-body movements shown to help knowledge retention. Such “mixed-reality” games that merge the digital with the physical are being developed and tested by Mina Johnson-Glenberg in Arizona State University’s Embodied Games for Learning Lab.
“ASU is already at the forefront of games and learning,” said Johnson-Glenberg, associate research professor in ASU’s Learning Sciences Institute, T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics and Department of Psychology. “But our lab is really the only one in the country pushing hard on the principles
behind this kind of embodied learning and also creating games for K-12 classrooms.”
Johnson-Glenberg also is creating games for ASU faculty to use with their college-aged students, either in class or as homework modules. These new role-playing games focus on research methods and how to retain first-generation students. The games will be released to faculty online in spring 2014. For more about the lab, visit http://egl.lsi.asu.edu/.
Trained as a cognitive psychologist, Johnson-Glenberg began her career working in academia on one of the first computer tutoring programs to remediate students with dyslexia. She then turned entrepreneur by starting a small educational technology company funded by several small business grants from the National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Education. Six years ago, Johnson-Glenberg moved to ASU where she could focus on creating serious games for learning.
“We have found that students retain knowledge better when they learn it with their bodies,” she explained. “And these motion-capture gesture-rich games have the added benefit of getting students out of their seats and moving.”
Johnson-Glenberg noted that in 2010, more than one-third of U.S. adolescents were considered overweight or obese. She decided to create the “Alien Health Game” to address the wellness of middle school student players on two fronts. First, it is an “exergame” that requires active physical engagement in order to play, and second, the game’s content promotes healthful eating choices. ASU’s Obesity Solutions Initiative awarded the game a seed grant in spring 2013.
To play the Alien Health Game, students must work in pairs while the rest of the class is encouraged to throw out suggestions. “There’s a lot of discourse going on,” Johnson-Glenberg explained.
Before game play starts, the players are instructed, “You have just woken up to find an alien under your bed. It is hungry and it is your job to figure out what makes it healthy.” As students make rapid food choices, they deduce through trial and error which foods make the alien healthier and which foods make it more tired due to poor nutrition. Students not only discover how the five main nutrients interact to create a balanced meal, but they also gain experience with the new U.S. Department of Agriculture MyPlate nutrition guide that recently replaced the familiar Food Pyramid.
With each food choice, players are asked to perform brief cardiovascular activities – jogging, arm circles, dance moves and jumping jacks – that elevate their heart rate and help the alien metabolize food. The game gives them practice in selecting nutritional foods in real-world situations, such as going through a school cafeteria line or grabbing snacks at convenience stores.”
To read the full article by Judy Crawford click here;