Use of Open-world Games for Computational Thinking in Science

Use of Open-world Games for Computational Thinking in Science

Dorothy Bennett, Director of Creative Pedagogy, NYSCI; Nicholas Hartmann, Research Assistant. NYSCIGAMES IN K-6, 7-12

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Over the past ten years, both private and public funders have invested heavily in establishing computer science (CS) and computational thinking (CT) as fundamental components of the U.S. grade school STEM education. However, integration of CT concepts and practices into K12 science instruction remains challenging for educators. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI), Participate and the American Institutes for Research have been working collaboratively with middle school teachers in New York City Public Schools to create and test a computational thinking curriculum centered on the integration of The Pack to support students’ computational thinking skills in science. Developed by NYSCI, Design I/O and the Columbia University, Center for International Earth Science Information Network. The Pack is a free, multiplatform, open-world digital game where players gather resources to attract creatures with differing functions and combine them into computational sequences to tackle problems encountered in a fictional ecosystem. In this session, we will offer insights into teachers’ implementation of the Pack, challenges they faced in fostering connections to science, and practical strategies for drawing out CT skills in students’ divergent approaches to game play in an open-world environment.

Attendee Benefits

As part of an early phase study, we are working collaboratively with teachers from under-resourced public middle schools in Queens and Brooklyn, NY to implement and test the Pack game and curriculum in their science classes. Gameplay challenge handouts and gameplay journals that are part of the curriculum will be central to the proposed session. Attendees will start off with identifying how CT comes up in their own context. They will then playtest game challenges that teachers in the study implemented to support students’ engagement with CT practices such as problem decomposition, algorithmic naming and sequencing, and debugging. Attendees will also be invited to use gameplay journals to critically analyze video examples of students’ game play to gain insights into how different forms of gameplay can shape children’s approaches to CT in open-world games and effective strategies for drawing out core concepts and skills for different types of players. Finally, facilitators will share use cases of how teachers made connections between the CT students encountered in the game to STEM problem solving skills in their classes and discuss as a group broader instructional design considerations for integrating open-world games into science teaching and learning.

Tue 12:00 am - 12:00 am
GAME / INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN, K12, USING GAMES IN K-12