louisa's blog

MIT’s Education Arcade Uses Online Gaming to Teach Science

A $3M grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will fund development
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – With a new $3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the MIT Education Arcade is about to design, build, and research a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) to help high school students learn math and biology.
In contrast to the way that Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) are currently taught in secondary schools – which often results in students becoming disengaged and disinterested in the subjects at an early age – educational games like the one to be developed give students the chance to explore STEM topics in a way that deepens their knowledge while also developing 21st-century skills.

Job Openings: educational MMOG project

Exciting news at the STEP lab is that we're about to start a new project - an educational MMOG to help high schoolers learn STEM subjects! Stay tuned for more information about this project, and for updates as we begin design and development. But for now, we're also excited to announce that we're hiring for 3 new positions on the project:

We're accepting applications on a rolling basis and looking to hire people as soon as we can, so feel free to spread the word to anyone you know who might be a good fit!

Playing Around on the Numberline

As a learning games research lab, we’re always interested to talk to people who are making research-based commercial games and apps. We recently got the chance to talk to Gabriel Adauto and Jacob Klein from Motion Math, a San Francisco startup designing and developing games to teach number sense to elementary and middle school students. They talked to us about their games, the research the games are based on, and the process they use to build them, and we were pleasantly surprised at how much their work has in common with ours.
The game we looked at is called Motion Math Zoom. It shows a number line with animals lined up along it to illustrate the scale. It starts with frogs and dogs for the ones and tens, but you later discover a plethora of other critters, from dinosaurs for the thousands down to amoebas for the thousandths. Players use the pinch and spread UI to zoom in and out and experiment with scale. In my own work at STEP, I have seen the importance of playfulness in games and giving players the chance to “mess around” in a sandbox-like environment. I loved the constructivist way in which this game lets kids explore the number line on their own, zooming in and out and moving left and right as much as they want before they complete the task at hand.