Simmons Professor Leanne Ketterlin Geller and co-principal investigators at the Lyle School, Associate Professor Eric Larson, and Assistant Professor Corey Clark, talk about the impetus behind their $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant allowing them to develop a videogame to teach computational thinking. Computational thinking should begin in Pre-K and followed through Grade 12, but as Ketterlin Geller notes getting students engaged in math and science is difficult.
In a recent article featured in Lyle Now, they discuss how their inspiration to use a Minecraft-based game for teaching came from the literacy game Simmons, Guildhall, and Literacy for Texas collaborated on for the Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy X-Prize competition. The game won the grand prize, and Clark says, “We figured if educational gaming can help teach literacy concepts, why not use it to teach math, science and computational thinking by converting it into Minecraft?” Clark, also deputy director of research at SMU Guildhall, is an education gaming expert who constructed the X-Prize game.
Ketterlin Geller says the research team is speaking to local school districts about potential collaborations. “Having student and teacher voices in the ultimate design and dissemination of the project will help with its implementation, longevity, and sustainability.”
Their feedback is essential because the team is striving for key education outcomes such as engaging in gameplay; changes in students’ interest, attitudes, beliefs and self-efficacy in STEM+C; involvement in collaborative, open-ended solutions; and achievement in related computing and mathematics concepts. Research for this project began last fall and continues through 2022.