Blog Archives

DiscoPets: a new learning game on Kickstarter

 

  • From the Kickstarter page for this new educational game

Diskopets is a cartoon based, educational, online game world for kids. They see a comical, animated and fully interactive multiplayer game, while behind the scenes they are actually learning from customizable educational materials.

Cartoon Based Interactive Learning Game World

  • Diskopets is a funny, animated, educational multiplayer online game. Like TV cartoons, it has comical and whimsical characters as well as a vast, ever changing world to explore.
  • The characters are small, cute, funny pets living high above us in the sky, on a floating island world. Kids take care of and raise these pets, as they play and learn with each other in the multiplayer world
  • There are many different areas to explore , within the Diskopets world for children, Most containing educational activities disguised as fun games and puzzles.
  • Parents can actually customize and add new learning material to the world. It’s the perfect educational game world for any child in your life.
  • The game is completely multiplayer, so kids get the benefit of social interactions and working together with as well.
  • Each pet’s personality changes over time and adapts to the player. The pet’s behaviour and emotions will change based on how the player interacts with them.

We started with a desire to create something that would teach science and math to kids. We soon realized that kids learn best through fun, discovery and play.

Learn by Playing:

  • Kids learn by playing games.
  • They gain physical skills by playing physical activities. They gain social skills by interacting with one another.
  • They learn learn best when they are having fun.

Fun with cartoons:

Growing up as kids, we loved cartoons and games. We learned our ABCs from watching our favourite characters on cartoons and television shows.

Sadly, today’s cartoons and games have moved away from the simple, fun and loveable characters we knew on Saturday morning cartoons. Today kids are bombarded with fast, more action based games and shows.

We want to create an interactive game that teaches and encourages learning through funny, cartoon based, character and simple play.

We don’t want the kids in our families to play non-educational, non-constructive games. We want there to be a choice for parents, brothers & sisters or uncles & aunts when it comes to what games to give the kids in their family.

Experimenting = Learning:

Kids learn best when they learn on their own through play and interaction. Kids listen more to subtle suggestions rather than forced rules.

We are creating a world that nudges them in the right direction and uses real educational techniques disguised as funny characters and games.

While television is passive and most educational games are played individually, Diskopets offers a unique opportunity to involve parents in multiple ways, with cooperative and multiplayer gameplay, in-game chats, and customization of educational material

We wanted to make a game that helps build a digital bond between kids and parents, one they can play together. Parents and siblings can even interact within the game, playing and chatting with each other and visiting the homes of their pets, all while learning useful educational material.

Customizable By Parents:

Parents can customize and even add to many areas of the game.

  • They can change fruits and vegetables in the garden.
  • The art room has drawings that can be uploaded to colour or chose drawings based on learning.
  • There is even a quiz show area where questions can be added and customized. It gives parents complete control over what their child will see and learn.
  • Many more customizations …

Kids today play many games which are purely for entertainment and don’t have any educational value at all. With Diskopets parents can rest assured that their kids are engaged in something they’ll find fun and entertaining, but they’re also learning as they play and experiment.

Track And View Progress:

Parents might not be aware of what benefit or value their child is getting from a game, if any.

To keep track of and reward achievements, the Diskopets world would include a trophy room.

For kids, it’s a showcase where they can see everything they’ve accomplished and gain status within the world.

For parents, it’s a way to keep track of what games your kids are playing, how much time they’ve spent playing in different activities, and how much progress they’ve made.

Everyone can benefit from Diskopets:

  • Kids are entertained, interacting and learning
  • Children learn together in a social environment as they play
  • Parents know their children are in a educational online game environment
  • Parents can customize content and take part in their child’s education
  • Teachers can suggest customizations to help with current school needs
  • Friends and family members can take part in the multiplayer game fun

 To learn more about Discopets click here for the Kickstarter page https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/diskopets/397258373?token=93b92d35

or click her for the website

http://www.diskopets.com/

 

6 Game Resources for learning STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)

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Monique Liles recommends the following Games for learning STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math), in an article for E School news;

1. Glass Labs:

2. Cell Craft:

3. Pandemic II

4. ChemGame Tutor:

5. Ayiti The Cost of a Life:

6. Ellen J. McHenry’s website:

Liles writes “In my classroom, we play a lot of games, frequently as the lesson. We then discuss what the students experienced in the game and make content connections via whole-group discussion. I often create a graphic organizer or worksheet for students to use to organize their thoughts about the game. When I have my biology and life science students play Cell Craft, for example, I demonstrate gameplay and features for the whole class using my laptop and projector. Students complete the organizer while we go through the game as a group and discuss the content. Then, students get a chance to play the game and really immerse themselves.”

Monique Liles is a teacher at Babb Middle School in Forest Park, GA. She is a member of Discovery Education’s Discovery Educator Network (DEN), a global community of educators that are passionate about transforming the learning experience with digital media.

To read the full article at E School click here;

http://www.eschoolnews.com/2015/02/17/gaming-stem-813/?

A majority of K-8 Teachers Use Digital Games for Instruction

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Games and Learning report that;

“A national survey of nearly 700 U.S. K-8 teachers conducted by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and the Games and Learning Publishing Council reveals that almost three-quarters of K-8 teachers are using digital games for instruction. Four out of five of those teachers report that their students play games at school at least once a month.

In his introduction to the critical survey of classrooms GLPC Chair Milton Chen observed:

Two fundamental findings should capture the attention of all educators, developers, funders, and policymakers: a majority of teachers are using digital games in their classrooms, and games are increasingly played on mobile devices that travel with their students.

Level Up Learning: A National Survey of Teaching with Digital Games by Lori M. Takeuchi and Sarah Vaala reports that teachers who use games more often found greater improvement in their students’ learning across subject

areas. However, the study also reveals that only 42% of teachers say that games have improved students’ science learning (compared to 71% in math), despite research suggesting that games are well suited for teaching complex scientific concepts.

areas.”However, the study also reveals that only 42% of teachers say that games have improved students’ science learning (compared to 71% in math), despite research suggesting that games are well suited for teaching complex scientific concepts.

Gaming and learning in a Pennsylvania school.

From WQED Learning Innovation;

“Students at Propel Braddock Hills High School may appear to be playing games on their computers, but what they’re actually doing is enhancing their learning. English, civics, math, shop, art, science and engineering teachers all incorporate gaming into their curriculum, making learning fun — and accessible — to their students.”

Play to Cure – Croud Crunching Data to Advance Cancer Research

From a press release from Cancer Research UK;

February 4, 2014

It’s been an ambitious and challenging project but the day to unveil it to the world has arrived.

We’re delighted today to launch Genes in Space – a unique and enjoyable game that you can download and play for free on your smart phone:

It’s a game, so first and foremost it’s fun to play – boring train journeys, queues for that gig or waiting for that friend who’s always late could be transformed into exhilarating space adventures.

But that’s not the exciting bit.

Well it is. But there’s more. Much more.

By downloading and playing this pioneering game, you will be taking part in research to help beat cancer. It might sound far-fetched, but it’s true.

We’ve been working with our scientists and gaming experts for months to build the game, which on the surface is a simple and entertaining caper through space. But underneath it’s a data crunching powerhouse that’s helping our scientists identify the DNA faults that could lead to cancer.

Here’s a little teaser of the game:

Element Alpha: real data

In the game, you take the helm of a spaceship to collect valuable and powerful ‘Element Alpha’. The stroke of genius is that in doing so you are actually helping our scientists to analyse piles of real life data.

That’s because the game is actually a fun interface to allow the public to assist our scientists in the serious business of spotting patterns in gigabytes of genetic information from thousands of tumours.

There’s lots more information about the fascinating science behind the game in this post. But in a nutshell, by finding the best route to pick up the most Element Alpha, you’re actually plotting a course through genuine ‘DNA microarray’ data.

Behind the scenes, the code of the game translates real microarray data like this…:

Microarray data

Microarray data

…into this:

Mapping a journey through space

Mapping a journey through space

No expertise required

The game’s ingenuity lies in its simplicity. Racking up the combined data crunching power of what we hope will be thousands of casual gamers will help our scientists spot the subtle patterns and peaks and troughs in the data, which correspond to DNA faults.

The power of Element Alpha is of course completely fictional, but the power of the data it represents could be exceptional. Our scientists will be trawling through the results as they come in and looking for crucial clues in the quest for new cancer treatments.

So what are you waiting for? Start collecting mysterious Element Alpha to help us solve the mystery of cancer sooner.

Download the game 

Game Worlds facilitate Collaborative, Inquiry-Based, and Self-Directed learning

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Jason Haas, of MIT, writes that;

“Commercial massively multiplayer online games, or MMOs, like World of Warcraft offer a number of features common to great learning environments. These games are, to varying degrees, collaborative, inquiry-based, and self-directed, all of which make them a prime place to explore aspects of math and science learning. Having a “world” in which to situate problems also means that players can solve something that feels meaningful to them; and see the consequences of their individual and collective actions. The massively multiplayer nature of these games also creates an opportunity for students to address problems with colleagues. Problems too large for any one of them to solve by themselves can be solved collectively by gathering data together, comparing notes, and acting decisively, confident in their evidence-based decisions.

At their best (and, frankly, even at their worst), these games function as a kind of society.

So, if you can combine these existing practices with engaging math and science content, imagine the learning experience you could provide. Thanks to a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we’re doing just that.

Our game, The Radix Endeavor, is a massively multiplayer online learning game, designed by our lab, The Education Arcade at MIT, and developed by Filament Games in Madison, Wisc. The game places thousands of players in an Earth-like world with a technical and social situation similar to our 1400s.”

To read the full article click here;

http://www.boston.com/business/innovation/state-of-play/2014/02/mind_games_new_adventures_in_l.html

Video Games Help Girls to Develop Math and Spatial Reasoning Skills

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of Mind/Shift writes that;

“Girls should play more video games. That’s one of the unexpected lessons I take away from a rash of recent studies on the importance of—and the malleability of—spatial skills.

First, why spatial skills matter: The ability to mentally manipulate shapes and otherwise understand how the three-dimensional world works turns out to be an important predictor of creative and scholarly achievements, according to research published this month in the journal Psychological Science. The long-term study found that 13-year-olds’ scores on traditional measures of mathematical and verbal reasoning predicted the number of scholarly papers and patents these individuals produced three decades later.

But high scores on tests of spatial ability taken at age 13 predicted something more surprising: the likelihood that the individual would develop new knowledge and produce innovation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the domains collectively known as STEM.

The good news is that spatial abilities can get better with practice. A meta-analysis of 217 research studies, published in the journal Psychological Science last year, concluded that “spatial skills are malleable, durable and transferable”: that is, spatial skills can be improved by training; these improvements persist over time; and they “transfer” to tasks that are different from the tasks used in the training.

This last point is supported by a study published just last month in the Journal of Cognition and Development, which reported that training children in spatial reasoning can improve their performance in math. A single twenty-minute training session in spatial skills enhanced participants’ ability to solve math problems, suggesting that the training “primes” the brain to tackle arithmetic, says study author and Michigan State University education professor Kelly Mix.

Playing an action video game “can virtually eliminate” the gender difference in a basic capacity they call spatial attention.

Findings like these have led some researchers to advocate for the addition of spatial-skills training to the school curriculum. That’s not a bad idea, but here’s another way to think about it: the informal education children receive can be just as important as what they learn in the classroom. We need to think more carefully about how kids’ formal and informal educational experiences fit together, and how one can fill gaps left by the other.

If traditional math and reading skills are emphasized at school, for example, parents can make sure that spatial skills are accentuated at home—starting early on, with activities as simple as talking about the spatial properties of the world around us. A 2011 study from researchers at the University of Chicago reported that the number of spatial terms (like “circle,” “curvy,” and “edge”) parents used while interacting with their toddlers predicted how many of these kinds of words children themselves produced, and how well they performed on spatial problem-solving tasks at a later age.”

To read the full article by click here;

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/07/can-playing-video-games-give-girls-an-edge-in-math/

Girls, Games, and STEM Education – Yes they all go together!

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For years researchers have noticed that few women are choosing careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  To address this problem, “A group of industry and aca­d­emic leaders gath­ered at Northeastern’s Seattle campus with what just might be a solu­tion to that problem: video games.”

The group is called; “Girls GAMES, short for Girls Advancing in Math, Engi­neering, and Sci­ence, is a new col­lab­o­ra­tion between uni­ver­sity part­ners and gaming com­pa­nies in Seattle aimed at pro­moting STEM careers for women through the devel­op­ment of edu­ca­tional games. Though the main event is being held in Seattle … We know games can engage kids to learn, so let’s use games for real learning, and let’s use games to advance girls’ learning, interest, and aspi­ra­tions in STEM,” said Tayloe Wash­burn, dean and CEO of Northeastern’s grad­uate campus in Seattle.”

Play This Game to Advance Brain Science

Daniel Berger, a researcher at MIT, traced these neurons using the EyeWire game.

Yes, ordinary people, non-scientist can contribute to science by playing a game

of NPR, recorded a great story on how people playing games can contribute to science and learning.   In the first half of the story, He plays and describes the game EyeWire, in which you can contribute to brain research and learn about the nerves of the eye.  In the second half of the story he describes the game Foldit, in which you can contribute to Scientists understanding of how proteins fold and learn about protein folding yourself.

“People can get pretty addicted to computer games. By some estimates, residents of planet Earth spend 3 billion hours per week playing them. Now some scientists are hoping to make use of all that human capital and harness it for a good cause.

Right now I’m at the novice level of a game called EyeWire, trying to color in a nerve cell in a cartoon drawing of a slice of tissue. EyeWire is designed to solve a real science problem — it aims to chart the billions of nerve connections in the brain.”

This image represents a chunk, or "cube," of brain. Each different color represents a different neuron, and the goal of the EyeWire game is to figure out how these tangled neurons connect to each other. Players look at a slice from this cube and try to identify the boundaries of each cell. It isn't easy, and it takes practice. You can try it for yourself at eyewire.org.

“This image represents a chunk, or “cube,” of brain. Each different color represents a different neuron, and the goal of the EyeWire game is to figure out how these tangled neurons connect to each other. Players look at a slice from this cube and try to identify the boundaries of each cell. It isn’t easy, and it takes practice. You can try it for yourself at eyewire.org.”

Link to text and audio from NPR here;

http://www.npr.org/2013/03/05/173435599/wanna-play-computer-gamers-help-push-frontier-of-brain-research

A teacher founded company, “Power Up Education”, creates games for learning

Dan Caldwell Founder

“Power Up Education is a small teacher-founded company committed to creating products that promote learning using interactive content, multimedia, educational games, and more. The Power Up story starts with a science teacher named Dan Caldwell. In 2009 Dan was in his 8th year of teaching middle school science in Northern New York State to seventh and eighth graders. During one seventh grade class in which the students were working on writing short stories about traveling through the digestive system from the point of view of the food Dan was asked by his students if he would also write a story. He responded by saying, “Well, how about I write a song instead, since songwriting is a way that I like to tell stories.” While playing the rather silly, yet scientifically accurate song to the class the power of music became instantly clear. The students were engaged in the lesson, they were enjoying themselves, and they were actually LEARNING!

Over the course of the next year Dan worked on creating the sciTunes Human Body Curriculum. During that time Dan realized that the power of this curriculum could be taken even further by using online learning games to engage students even further. To find out more about the sciTunes Curriculum visit www.sciTunes.com. sciTunes Curriculum

In the fall of 2010 Dan entered a human body iPad game in the National STEM Video Game Challenge. The game, now known as Body Adventure With Captain Brainy-Pants! was selected as a finalist for the Developer’s Prize. After attending the finals in Washington D.C. and presenting the games to a panel of experts in the field, Dan was awarded the Best Teacher Made Game Prize!

Power Up Education is committed to taking the sciTunes Curriculum even further. We are currently developing more learning games for a variety of platforms including free for the web. The sciTunes Human Body Curriculum is also being developed as an interactive online curriculum that can be accessed by iPads, Tablets, as well as traditional web browsers on PCs and Macs.  There will be much more news to come on this development!

Why the name change? We are now called Power Up Education because we fully intend to take our highly effective teaching strategies found in the sciTunes Curriculum and apply them to other subjects including, Math, Social Studies, Language Arts, and other branches of Science.” – From the company web site – To learn more about “Power Up Education” click here; http://poweruped.com/