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Friday, June 13 • 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Systems Reasoning

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Discussant:  Seann Dikkers

Children of the Sun: The design and evaluation of an educational game about middle mississippian culture

Steffan Byrne, Paul Gestwicki, Ronald Morris
Children of the Sun is a tablet-based educational game about the Middle Mississippians. It is designed for use in museum outreach programs and employs a collocated multiplayer design: each player has his or her own tablet computer and competes against those nearby. In Children of the Sun, the player is a village chief, responsible for assigning his three hundred villagers to the four primary tasks of farming, hunting, mound-building, and raiding. After successful deployment of the game, a research team conducted a formal qualitative study to discover which aspects of the game contributed to or distracted from the learning objectives. We document three major findings: the players strongly identified with their own village; the game clarified some misconceptions about Native American culture; and players' collocation encouraged them to help each other quickly learn the rules and interface of the game.

Turn Up the Heat! Board Games, Environmental Sustainability, and Cultural Forms
Michael Horn, Amartya Banerjee, Sarah D'Angelo, Pei-Yi Kuo, D. Harmon Pollock, Reed Stevens
Turn Up the Heat! is a cooperative board game designed to encourage families to reflect on tradeoffs related to energy, money, comfort, and environmental sustainability. In particular, the game playfully confronts power dynamics associated with the use of residential thermostats to control domestic heating and cooling systems. Turn Up the Heat addresses common misconceptions about how thermostats work and how they can be used to save energy and money. Our game incorporates traditional elements such as cards, tokens, and a game board, but it also includes a tablet computer app as a central feature of play. The app simulates heating and cooling system based on factors such as outdoor temperatures, thermostat settings, and home insulation levels. It also gives all players (parents and children alike) the opportunity to adjust a thermostat on their turn.

Talking with kids on game design, computer programming, and taking over the world with dragons
Amanda Ochsner, Gabriella Anton
This paper examines the programming and game design practices of middle school students who attend an informal after-school group called the Cyberlearning Club. Using tools like Scratch and Kodu the students use programming to design digital games individually and collaboratively. Several of the students have begun to express interest in more advanced programming languages and are utilizing online tools and books to expand their programming abilities. This paper reports on the results of semi-structured qualitative interviews meant to capture students’ conceptual understandings and trajectories relating to programming and game design. The questions aim at understanding where each student is at in terms of opinions on their programming ability, their experiences of different tools and resources, and what their learning goals and future aspirations are. We profile students who reported distinct learning goals and programming trajectories, focusing on how to support their future design and programming endeavors.

avatar for Seann Dikkers

Seann Dikkers

Associate Professor, Bethel University
Built forts with neighborhood friends. Married my best friend. Two playful adult children. Games in Learning author, researcher, and trainer. Long time Civ and TW geek.

avatar for Paul Gestwicki

Paul Gestwicki

Associate Professor, Ball State University
I am in the Computer Science department, where I teach advanced programming as well as game design and development. I regularly form multidiscplinary teams of undergraduates to work with community partners on serious game projects.
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 →

Pei-Yi Kuo

PhD Student, Northwestern University

Ronald Morris

Professor; Presidential Immersive Learning Fellow, Ball State University Department of History
I am passionate about providing curriculm materials to elementary social studies teachers, providing digital resources to enrich elementary social studies classrooms for students, and creating digital materials to help cultural institutions work with families.
avatar for Amanda Ochsner

Amanda Ochsner

Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Southern California


Evanston, Illinois, United States, Northwestern University

Friday June 13, 2014 12:00pm - 1:00pm CDT
Inn Wisconsin

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