VIDEO GAMES HELP STUDENTS TO LEVEL UP STEM LEARNING



National Video Game Day was celebrated on September 12, which leads to the question. Why would something that’s so much a part of modern life need any extra promotion? Unfortunately, video games get a bad rap, often from teachers and parents. Who worries that kids are spending too much time shooting at bad guys and not enough time hitting the books. Well, a recent study found that 36% of parents say they argue with their children about screen time on a daily basis. Also, the image of zombie-like teens staring at their screens looms large over the conversation about kids and technology. So, here we will discuss how video games help in stem learning.

While nobody wants children and teens to disengage from the world in favor of devices. Video games can actually be an effective way to engage students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects. The power of video games in this field is immense. Definitely, teachers and parents can harness the kid’s interest and steer it toward math and science learning. Video games require a tremendous amount of STEM knowledge to develop. This makes them a natural hook for teaching coding and other computer skills.


WHAT MAKES GAMING SO ATTRACTIVE


Well-designed video games keep users coming back for more. While there’s an ongoing debate about whether they can be addictive or not. There’s no doubt that games are highly engaging.

  • They put the player in control. Players get to move around imaginary worlds however they like and be in charge of their own experiences. Compare this to sitting at a desk listening to a lecture, and it’s easy to see why kids love games.
  • They offer incremental levels of difficulty. “Leveling up” by accomplishing a task provides a rewarding sense of accomplishment. It also keeps the player from getting bored by something too easy or frustrated by something too difficult.
  • They provide instant, ongoing feedback. Players can tell right away when they’ve made a mistake. And they have the opportunity to start over if they fail. Many games also have prominent timers and/or “health” bars that show how players are faring and help them make adjustments to their strategies.
  • They create community. Many games allow for multiplayer participation, and even solo players can chat with others. So, that they can share their experiences to compare notes and solve problems collaboratively.

BUILDING GAMES AROUND STEM SUBJECT


With gamers poised to spend $137.9 billion this year, it makes sense for educators to capitalize on the popularity of video games to help students reach learning goals. That’s why researchers created Geckoman which will teach middle school students the basics of nanotechnology. The game tells a story about a scientist who must journey through different worlds to recover pieces of his notebook. Each level requires students to learn something about physical forces. And nanotechnology in order to solve a problem and move on to the next level.

Not every video game is useful for teaching STEM concepts, of course. They should be thoughtfully designed by subject experts and developmentally appropriate for the age group they target.

According to Karen Cator, CEO of Digital Promise  “they will also provide the ability to simulate complex systems and allow people to interact with those systems”.

As students learn the rules of the system and apply them to problems. They internalize their learning — along with the scientific method of hypothesis and experimentation.


BEHIND THE SCENES WITH VIDEO GAME CODING


In addition to playing games built around specific STEM topics. Video games are also a powerful way to introduce students to coding and the complex thinking required to design a system. This is because children are already so invested in video games. It’s easy to use their established interest to “lift the curtain” to show them what it takes to put a video game together.

Creating a game also requires the ability to code, a critical skill for programmers and developers. Like any language, it’s dull to memorize it in bits and pieces from a book. But it’s highly effective to learn by doing—in this case, by using code to put together a new game. Interactive educational programs like Code Ninjas make learning to code rewarding and fun for kids by teaching skills in the context of developing a game or app that students would want to use. It’s this type of real-world experience that brings STEM learning alive for students of all ages.

Whether STEM skills are taught through the content of a video game or by building. Hence one thing is clear: Video games are a powerful force in young people’s lives today. By connecting these video games to the world of STEM learning, we can make sure they will help students to level up STEM learning.

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