Federal Government Spending $1.5 Million on STEM Video Game Development
Your “Pac Man” arcade machine is an exciting source of entertainment for every member of your family, but you have to admit, it doesn’t teach your kids much in the way of science and math. Everyone knows about the popularity of video games, and slowly everyone (federal government included) is recognizing the power of video games as a teaching tool. Instead of depending solely on traditional teaching methods to educate and guide the nation’s youth towards pursuing science, technology, engineering and math careers, the government is using taxpayer funds in the form of grants to finance the production of two games to further schoolchildren’s pursuit of higher education in STEM fields. Virtual Lab to Teach Photosynthesis The first game is funded by grants from the National Science Foundation that total $728,000. The game’s purpose is to teach middle-school students all about photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a complex subject since it’s an invisible biological process. By creating a virtual lab game, teachers will be able to increase comprehension among students at all educational levels, personalizing the learning process to each student. Virtual Mentor Will Guide Students Towards STEM Careers The second game is costing $747,000 to produce. It will essentially act as a virtual mentor, helping students discover if a career in STEM fields is right for them. The game will help students understand job options that come from higher education in STEM subjects and know what they will do on a daily basis if they pick certain careers. Video Games as Learning Tools Video game technology is constantly being adapted for educational purposes, mainly because it works. This year’s SXSW presentation by Texas A&M students showed that educational video games produce higher rates of knowledge retention. For example, students who played a game developed to teach students about the Renaissance era and the Medici family retained 25 percent more knowledge after playing. From classic arcade games to the vast selection of modern gaming options, video games are most definitely a prime source of entertainment. But as research shows, that’s not all video games accomplish. They’re a valuable addition to the educational process and will continue to be used as learning tools more frequently as the years go by.