#DMl2014 Wrap-up: Developing STEM Literacy Through Gameplay and Game Design

Last week I had the pleasure of coordinating and presenting at a panel at the 2014 Digital Media and Learning Conference last week. From the program:

MARCH 8 | 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM | Copley
Developing STEM Literacy Through Gameplay and Game Design
Organizer: Barry Joseph
Presenters: Rik Paganiban, Kevin Miklasz, Gary Goldberger, Scot Osterweil, Anna Ly, Eve Gaus

Both game literacy and STEM literacy have been identified as crucial 21st Century Learning Skills. Come learn how the two are supporting one another in museums, universities, and after school programs, and through commercial products. Explore examples of games made by youth and for youth. Examine the value of engaging youth in game design itself, and how game design can scaffold scientific reasoning and design skills.

Panelists will challenge each other with questions exploring the broader issue of teaching stem content and practices through games-based learning. After the provocative (and possibly endearing) discussion and debate, panelists will officially open the STEM Arcade; participants will break up into smaller groups for hands-on demos and discussion with individual panelists. Featured games will include:

  • The Radix Endeavor, a multiplayer online game for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning in high school (MIT Education Arcade)
  • Vanished, an ARG that engaged 6,000 players in serious scientific exploration in the context of a science fiction narrative in which they all played a role
  • Pterosaurs, a Collectible Card Game developed by high school youth in conjunction with a new museum exhibit and Minecraft at the Museum, a Minecraft-based server designed with high school youth to teach science (AMNH)
  • The Fluid Ether and The Gravity Ether, two physics simulation games with level-editors that embrace open-ended, inquiry based learning (Iridescent)
  • Virtual Expeditions, a game experience for museum visitors combining both digital and analog assets such as specimens, video footage and live acting (Cal Academy)
  • Elemental, a video game for children ages 7-11 that improves “number sense,” or a person’s innate ability for number estimation (The Joan Ganz Cooney Center / E-Line Media)

Partners: Barry Joseph, Associate Director for Digital Learning, American Museum of Natural History; Kevin Miklasz, Director of Digital Learning, Iridescent; Gary Goldberger, President, FableVision; Scot Osterweil, Creative Director, Learning Games Network & MIT Education Arcade; Rik Panganiban, Senior Manager of Digital Learning, California Academy of Sciences; Anna Ly, Joan Ganz Cooney Center Industry Fellow; Eve Gaus, Digital Learning Specialist, The Field Museum

The combination felt great – half conversation, half hands-on.

A member of the audience (Thanks Joyce!) filmed this one question we explored together:  Is STEM content a low-hanging fruit for learning games?

During the conversation, we hosted a back-channel for the audience to ask questions and I moderated weaving them into the conversation. Below is a word cloud form all the posts:

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 9.49.03 AMUnfortunately we have no recording of the audio, but below you can read the public back-channel as it unfolded (starting with the opening test posts):

Hi March 5, 2014, 02:38 PM
Ka-BLAMO! March 8, 2014, 11:03 AM
Okay I finally must admit that Minecraft is sorta maybe awesome. #dml2014 March 8, 2014, 11:03 AM
Come with me if you want to live-tweet #Twitterator March 8, 2014, 11:04 AM
saw some great utilization of STEM literacy in exhibits at @museumofscience last night 🙂 March 8, 2014, 11:04 AM
STEM – aw snap! March 8, 2014, 11:04 AM
. testing! March 8, 2014, 11:05 AM
How many STEM literacies are there? #DML2014 March 8, 2014, 11:05 AM
How do us newbies “catch up” when it comes to STEM an d gaming? #DML2014 March 8, 2014, 11:06 AM
How do us newbies “catch up” when it comes to STEM and gaming? #DML2014 March 8, 2014, 11:07 AM
how does a game make learning visible? March 8, 2014, 11:20 AM
How do we decide what to teach in STEM games? How big or how small do you go? March 8, 2014, 11:20 AM
test March 8, 2014, 11:21 AM
How do we decide what to teach in STEM games? How big or how small do you go? #DML2014 March 8, 2014, 11:21 AM
loved the Cypher activity March 8, 2014, 11:21 AM
What about kids who think learning with games isn’t serious or important? How do you show them the value? March 8, 2014, 11:22 AM
is enough being done to shift the narrative that gaming is lightweight/unimportant (even though it’s $billion industry)? March 8, 2014, 11:23 AM
would love to hear more about designing games around specific curriculum and the implications of that. March 8, 2014, 11:25 AM
khan academy uses a progress tracker in schools that reveals tons of information about student learning. How do/can we apply that to gaming acros March 8, 2014, 11:30 AM
Are STEM games low-hanging fruit compared to writing and art? How did that influence your decision to make one? March 8, 2014, 11:30 AM
apply that to gaming across platforms to both elevate the reputation of game-based learning and assess efficacy? March 8, 2014, 11:31 AM
but learning isn’t always fun. It can’t be. March 8, 2014, 11:34 AM
Would love to hear more about developing games as a tool for assessment March 8, 2014, 11:35 AM
where is a good place to start as far as academic literature on how teaching and learning happens in games? March 8, 2014, 11:35 AM
Play is the learning mechanism that was evolved. All others are forced. #DML2014 March 8, 2014, 11:35 AM
James Paul gee writes a ton about learning in games. Also Jane mcgonigal. March 8, 2014, 11:35 AM
Is it really about fun or is it more about engagement? If we think of movies Saving Private Ryan wasn’t fun but it was engaging March 8, 2014, 11:36 AM
play itself also isn’t always “fun”; it’s often very serious. watch youth police their own rules! March 8, 2014, 11:36 AM
I think we have a semantic disagreement on our hands! March 8, 2014, 11:36 AM
Learning is talked about in the very first academic writing about games : Huizinga #DML2014 March 8, 2014, 11:37 AM
So is the conclusion that games don’t belong in schools? March 8, 2014, 11:38 AM
Do you think there are elements of academic skills/knowledge which are not susceptible to the tools of game design? March 8, 2014, 11:39 AM
I hope that’s not the conclusion! March 8, 2014, 11:40 AM
can we PLEASE talk bout games used as mechanisms 2 CONSUME content (edu games) v. using using game design as mech. 4 PRODUCING? March 8, 2014, 11:40 AM
How can a game replicate the ‘messy’ process of science? Examples? March 8, 2014, 11:40 AM
Fiero! March 8, 2014, 11:40 AM
When kids are in school, they already know they’re there for the broccoli. Voluntariness is absent. Selling the value of abstract outcomes is h March 8, 2014, 11:41 AM
Games with no tutorial become subjects that players investigate in a scientific way. March 8, 2014, 11:42 AM
Is there any high-hanging fruit? March 8, 2014, 11:44 AM
How can game-design activities in STEM be assessed in a way that’s persuasive to influential stakeholders? #DML2014 #gbl March 8, 2014, 11:44 AM
Are we talking about strong procedural rhetoric? March 8, 2014, 11:44 AM
how do game designers ensure skills learned are transferable to the real world beyond using simulations/models? How do you prove skills have been March 8, 2014, 11:45 AM
Is it necessary to silo content areas when we are using games to teach? Should not our approach be multi-disciplinary every single time? March 8, 2014, 11:46 AM
Would love to hear thoughts on co-opting existing games like WoW, MineCraft or interconnected tools like augmented/virtual reality, badges, geolocation March 8, 2014, 11:51 AM
Digital games about the physical world easier than games about social world b/c computers are not minds. High-hanging fruit. March 8, 2014, 11:52 AM
No judgement there. March 8, 2014, 11:53 AM
socio-emotional learning is a low hanging fruit in narrative. So I’m not sure it qualifies as a high fruit in gaming, so long as the game has narrative. March 8, 2014, 11:54 AM
Forgive me – I was thinking about academic humanities. March 8, 2014, 11:56 AM
Ah. I see. No forgiveness needed. March 8, 2014, 11:56 AM

View photos of the panel.


About Barry

The Associate Director For Digital Learning, Youth Initiatives at the American Museum of Natural History.
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6 Responses to #DMl2014 Wrap-up: Developing STEM Literacy Through Gameplay and Game Design

  1. Lou Gasco says:

    Awesome panel! Love to engage some of these folks for upcoming events! Thanks for the info Barry!

  2. Really fun time, thanks for organizing this , Barry! And great to meet everyone else on the panel.

  3. Danny Fain says:

    Barry, I loved attending this panel session, and featured it in my own blog post about the conference (http://dannyfain.org/2014/03/dml-2014-a-conference-occasionally-practices-what-it-preaches/). Good use of digital artifacts in your blog post, too!

    By the way, where online can I find the infographic (“The Gaming of Science”) that was posted on the door to the room where this panel session was held?

    • Barry says:

      Danny, I enjoyed the big picture of the your post (and of course the details about our panel). Thank you.

      What did you think of the infographic? It is still in development, and feedback would be greatly appreciated.

      • Danny Fain says:

        I only had a minute to look over the infographic poster at the conference, but I took a (low-res) photo with my smartphone. So I haven’t yet seen enough details to comment on them, but I’d be happy to share my impression of the graphic design:
        I think good infographics leverage the iconography of the subject, and visually imply some of the main ideas or representative actions. In this infographic, I like the use of color; however, the layout (mostly boxes in rows & columns, a pie chart) only suggests classification, which is an important part of science, but not the most engaging or game-like aspect. I recommend a more dynamic layout, with more kinds of graphs, and other visual elements that imply inquiry (more strongly than a small icon of a magnifying glass), hypothesis-testing, and problem-solving.

  4. Pingback: DML 2014: a Conference Occasionally Practices what it Preaches | Learning by Gaming ... but Seriously!

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