Speaking on Science, Museums and Games at GLS

This morning I had the pleasure of speaking at one of my favorite conferences – the 9th annual Games, Learning and Society Conference – with one of my favorite partners, the Field Museum. The title was: “Fireside Chat: Building the next science generation through game-based learning in museums”. (In the old days of GLS, fireside chats were informal conversations, held from a big red chair next to a fireplace on a tv screen.)

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That is Audrey on my left, Eve on my right, and clearly I am in the middle with the camera.
It was a packed room with three dozen or more attendees who came from graduate school, museums, and those driven by an interest in science. What they read in the program that enticed them to come was the following:

In this chat, the American Museum of Natural History and The Field Museum will highlight different approaches to build a science-positive generation through museum-centered digital gaming programming both on-site and off. The case studies cross a spectrum of technologies and museum-centered goals, and speak to the diversity of techniques being used. Case studies will introduce broader questions about digital gaming and museum-based learning, such as: Is there a conflict between the physical assets of a museum and the ephemeral nature of digital tools? Can youth only learn by simulating the scientific process or can they work with the same tools and data as scientists to participate in and contribute to on-going investigations? To what extent do museum-led digital learning programs need to be centered in the museum’s physical space? How can a museum support youth to navigate their interest-driven learning and to develop a lifelong passion for science?

Seeking to avoid a traditional presentation, and because we had more questions then we ever could address, we used a tool Wheel Decide to let chance determine which questions we would answer, and in what order. We populated it with the following questions (but through the engaged discussion and sharing across the whole room, I think we only manged to get to three of them):

  1. Do games-based learning opportunities need to be centered in a museum’s physical space?
  2. How can museums use games-based learning to help youth develop a lifelong interest in science?
  3. What role can museums play in advancing games-based learning?
  4. How can museums best offer opportunities for youth to remix content?
  5. Should museums produce games themselves, or should they serve as facilitators or content experts for game designers?
  6. What are best practices for engaging youth and teens through games with museum collections?
  7. How can primary collections and research-based data be incorporated into gaming experiences?

My favorite way to share our discussion is filtered through the Tweets of those in attendance. This both condenses the ideas into short sound bites and focuses on what those in attendance found of most interest.

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About Barry

The Associate Director For Digital Learning, Youth Initiatives at the American Museum of Natural History.
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