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Wednesday, June 11 • 10:30am - 11:30am

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Discussant:  Kemi Jona

Build-a-Tree: Parent-Child Gaming in Museum Settings

Krystal Villanosa, Florian Block, Michael Horn, Chia Shen
Build-a-Tree (BAT) is a puzzle game designed to facilitate learning about evolution in museums. BAT asks players to construct phylogenetic trees (known as cladograms) using tokens depicting organisms and traits. Cladograms are a fundamental representation used by scientists to communicate hypotheses about common ancestry and shared trait inheritance. BAT challenges players with seven increasingly difficult levels. To win BAT, players build on what they learn in early levels to complete more complex trees. Visitors play BAT on a multi-touch display with visual tokens that can be independently and simultaneously manipulated. Players arrange tokens to build trees that accurately depict relationships of plants and animals. BAT is the result of an iterative design process in which numerous prototypes were developed and tested over three years. We have begun testing BAT at a natural history museum with parents and children to better understand how gameplay might influence visitor interpretation of museum objects.

Breeding Dragons for Learning Genetics: Redesigning a Classroom Game for an Informal Virtual World
Yasmin Kafai, Cynthia McIntyre, Trudi Lord, Paul Horwitz, Jennifer Sun, Mark Dinan, Daniel Kunka
Connecting learning and playing in virtual worlds inside and outside of schools has been an ongoing challenge. In this paper, we focus on the challenge by combining and leveraging the best of both worlds: the structured and guided activities found in many school-based virtual worlds with the voluntary and social participation of informal virtual worlds. For that purpose, we examine the redesign of an instructional classroom simulation called Geniverse into a virtual world game called Dragons in which players breed dragons in lairs and labs. We report on our design efforts and a five-month long implementation of Dragons in the massive virtual world of Whyville. Our findings focus on the nature of participation and play of over 1,200 online players and their interest in and understanding of genetics. In the discussion, we review what we have learned about redesigning classroom applications for serious gaming and outline further research steps.

Cellvival! The design and evaluation of a game to teach biology
Andrew Jefferson
Cellvival! is a game that attempts to meaningfully translate high school biology content, particularly evolutionary concepts, into engaging game mechanics. It was created for a research project that piloted the game (in the context of specifically developed accompanying lessons) with high school students at 3 schools and tested students before and after the lessons. These pre-post tests assessed the impact on content knowledge as well as deeper understanding and the ability to apply evolutionary reasoning to novel situations. This pre-post data was also collected from students doing a lab on microeveolution and students receiving teachers’ typical classroom instruction on the subject. The game’s design, learning objectives, and production as well as the research design, findings comparing the outcomes of students across the three types of lessons, and implications of these findings are discussed.


Kemi Jona

Professor, Learning Sciences & Computer Science, Northwestern University
Designing for and studying free choice learning environments. New methods and technologies for measuring persistence and engagement. STEM/STEAM. @KemiJona

avatar for Michael Horn

Michael Horn

Evanston, Illinois, United States, Northwestern University
I'm an assistant professor at Northwestern University with a joint appointment in Computer Science and the Learning Sciences. I direct of the Tangible Interaction Design and Learning (TIDAL) Lab, and my research focuses on the intersection of human-computer interaction and learning... Read More →

Andrew Jefferson

I'm a doctoral candidate at Cornell University, making and testing an educational video game as my dissertation. My background is in cognitive psychology, and I drew on that as well as theories of game design to design Cellvival! a game to teach high school students evolutionary principles... Read More →
avatar for Yasmin Kafai

Yasmin Kafai

Chair, Teaching Learning & Leadership Division, University of Pennsylvania
Yasmin Kafai is Professor of Learning Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a researcher, designer, and developer of online communities and tools (ecrafting.org, stitchtfest.org, and scratch.mit.edu) to promote computational participation, crafting, and creativity across K-16. Book publications include Connected Code, Connected Play, The Computer Clubhouse, Textile Messages, and Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat. Kafai earned a doctorate from Harvard University while working wit... Read More →
avatar for Chia Shen

Chia Shen

Director&Senior Research Fellow, Harvard University
How can useful data visualization, innovative designs and fluid human-display interaction help us to solve social issues including learning, education and health?

Jen Sun

Numedeon, Inc.

Wednesday June 11, 2014 10:30am - 11:30am CDT
Old Madison

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