Monday, May 13, 2013

Gamification in Science

A new term is popping up in education called, gamification, and it seems to be causing a stir. Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context in order to engage users and solve problems. Can gaming help students with content in the classroom? Recently the PBS Idea Channel posted this video on using Minecraft in the classroom. 

After watching this video I thought, 'How cool would it be to use a game students are all ready playing to teach content?' Little did I know the next week I would showing some visitors Mrs. Juli Jones' classroom at Kelly Mill Middle School and see two students creating a review game using Minecraft on one of the desktop computers in the classroom. I couldn't believe this is what I was seeing but it was. I was able to sit down with Mrs. Jones,  Jimmy, and Coltan to ask about this project. 

The students were creating a review game on the respiratory and circulatory systems. Jimmy and Coltan decided to work together when Mrs. Jones said they could create a Minecraft game. Both students play Minecraft at home and thought it would make an interesting review game. They learned to play Minecraft from friends and have been playing for a few years.

I asked the students how creating this game changed the class, the students responded by saying, they wanted to do the work. It also allowed Jimmy and Coltan to work and talk with someone as they completed the project. Both students also said they worked on the project longer creating the game then they would have if had chosen something else. Coltan said the best part was Mrs. Jones told them they were "building science."

Mrs. Jones is what I consider to be a risk taker with technology integration. The times I have been in her classroom she is willing to let the students try new things to see what/how they learn. She says it's her way to "connect with student engagement and makes it exciting for the students to come to school." The ideas the students come up with for completing projects helps the students make "connections to the content." Mrs. Jones says, It's "fun to teach people who are excited to learn."

Jimmy and Coltan took time to show me their project and a few tips on how to create in Minecraft. 

If you are interested in finding out a little more about Minecraft see the links below:

Minecraft the game

Minecraft in Education links