Stop reading this post

And go get this free download.

Parents no longer have an excuse not to know what is up with video games these days.  Parents and teachers can also see what GOOD things video games can do!

Seriously, stop reading this and go get the download.  Stop back to discuss it if you’d like, though!





Upcoming Event: What Can a Video Game Teach?

Melanie Stegman, yours truly, will be presenting her research on Immune Attack, development of the sequal and all about using game to teach and learn.  April 23, 6PM.  At the FabLab on North Capitol at P.  If you have made a game, bring it with you!  Please Register Here.

Video Games can teach science by presenting and requiring your interaction with complex 3D models of things you otherwise need to imagine because they are too small, to rare, or too far away to see.

Video games can also teach science to you if you decide to MAKE your own video game.  If you design it on paper you are doing systems thinking, planning, designing, and considering human computer interactions.  If you program a game you are learning to convert a designer’s instructions accurately, how to creatively solve programming problems, and how to optimize your system.

Video Games can also be made about science, as well.  If you make a game about science, then you are learning the science yourself and everyone who plays your game may learn, to.

Have you made a video game?  Would you like to show it off?  Have you ever submitted it to a contest, like the STEM Video Game Challenge?  Have you almost created a game and want to get some feedback?  Are you just curious about what anyone could actually be learning from a video game?
Then come out and meet game developer and many other types of design and maker people at Fab Lab DC.

Melanie will talk about Immune Attack and what students are learning.  There will be time before and after the presentation to try out some other great science games:

History of Biology
Fold It
You Make Me Sick
You Make Me Sick

Please Register here!

This event is an official part of the month long USA Science and Engineering Festival.  The Finale Expo will be April 29-30 in the DC Convention Center April 27-29th.  Come out and meet Melanie at the FAS booth, talk with scientists in the “Encounter’s with Scientists” booth (FAS hour is 11AM Sunday the 29th) and meet the Fab Lab people in their booth #3050!

Please Register here!




Please register here:  

This event is an official part of the month long USA Science and Engineering Festival.  The Finale Expo will be April 29-30 in the DC Convention Center April 27-29th.  Come out and meet Melanie at the FAS booth, talk with scientists in the “Encouter’s with Scientists” booth (FAS hour is 11AM Sunday the 29th) and meet the Fab Lab DC people at their booth (#3050)!

NSTA Science Rocks Pictures

What does a scientist look like?  See above.

The National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) had a big Science Rocks event at their annual meeting last week.  A few of us lucky scientist types were invited to represent how cool being a scientist can be!

Cindy Hasselbring (Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow & Math Teacher) and  Science Rockstars: Leland Melvin, Anousheh Ansari, Corey Powell, Ken Ono, enjoying the show before they spoke. Not shown: Simona de Silvestro, Grand Hanks and Melanie Stegman.

You can meet Anousheh Ansari in person at the Science and Engineering Festival Expo April 28-29.

What does a chemistry experiment look like?  See below.

In the World’s Largest Chemistry lesson, we shook a highly absorbent polymer to see if it felt cooler after evaporation….  See what happens!  Turn down your volume!  Grand Hanks is the chemist who is teaching the lesson on the microphone and his partner is the DJ who is laying down an excellent polymer shaking beat.

NSTA Science Rocks March 2012 from Melanie Stegman on Vimeo.


Me betwen two astronauts!!

Here I am, Melanie Stegman, being a panelist at Science Rocks. I am sitting between two Astronauts! Anousheh Ansari and Leland Melvin.

Teaching Science Through Video Game Design

Project Based Learning works.  A project that your students are excited about works better.  A project that allows the students to build levels of abstract and complex concepts upon a stable scaffold is even better.  And a project with a robust scaffold that can address the true complexities of a scientific system is something that many scientists would discuss with your students… and something that would generate untold number of questions from your students.

Sounds too good to be true, I realize.  But I have worked with five classes of high school students who created materials related to video game design:  paper and pen design documents, three-dimensional and two dimensional computer generated models and two dimensional video games.  The production of any of these provides a scaffold for a project that holds the student’s interests and motivates them to add to it.  Their design document or video game plan tethers a world of abstract concepts and esoteric facts to a story that they wrote.  So the concepts and facts are automatically related to their frame of view and level of understanding.

I am collaborating with professors at George Mason University.  Professors Kevin Clack and Kim Sheridan run a computer programming class.  They are interested in helping high school students feel competent in STEM fields.  They asked me to be their high school programming student’s “Client.”  I asked the students to create a Neurological Immune Attack game for me.  The game should focus on one of four molecular pathways that are core to Neurology.

Here is a link to our work on NSF page.

Here is our reference:

Students Designing Video Games about Immunology: Insights for Science Learning
Neda Khalili, Kimberly Sheridan, Asia Williams, Kevin Clark, Melanie Stegman
Computers in the Schools
Volume 28, Issue 3 pp. 228-240 | DOI: 10.1080/07380569.2011.594988

Find GameMaker Windows/Mac/Linux here!

Find a scientist:  The National Lab Network is a place where you can find an expert to come to your classroom.

Teacher made an Immune Attack Demonstration video!

Check out this great Immune Attack demonstration video!!

If you would like to see what Immune Attack is exactly like, watch video of himself playing Immune Attack!

Spoiler alert!  This video is better if you are a teacher, and less interesting if you are a PLAYER!  If you are a student and you are curious, then just download the game (free) and play for yourself!


December 2011 Newsletter

Hi Everyone!

The The December Learning Technologies Newsletter is HERE!

I forgot to mention that the annual STEM Video Game Challenge is ON!  Middle school and High School kids can program or design on paper their own video games, about STEM or about anything at all.  Go check it out and get your kids involved!  I was one of the judges last year.  The games were fun, really innovative.  I suggest making a video game in place of a science fair project.  Go to National Lab Network and ask a scientist to come to talk to your class about their chosen video game topics while they are under development!  Deadline is in March!

Finally, most embarrassingly, the unsubscribe link in the December newsletter malfunctioned.  If you want to unsubscribe from all of my email lists, Click HERE.  *Sorry*

Immersive Learning as the Educational Methodology for the 21st Century

Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. 

Benjamin Franklin found this statement true for himself, in his time.  Given the evolution of learning and how we process information in today’s day and age, what Ben Franklin said in the 1700’s is a profound message for how we learn and how we can teach in the 21st Century.   And we are fortunate that today we have a broader spectrum of tools which are accessible to a larger audience.

Immersive learning is the future.  It has always been the way human beings have learned best.  It happens that the evolution of education in the United States has distanced immersion from the educational process.  Even as small children, we learn spatial relations by reaching out to touch everything (and then chewing on it).  We learn language by listening and starting to make sounds ourselves.  We learn the names of colors by identifying a sound of a word with visual input.  We learn because a contextual world surrounds us and involves us, literally, in every step we take.

Today most K-12 based learning (indeed most learning of any kind) takes place out of context, in a rather passive manner.  People read, report, present, but rarely are they in the environment in which the content they need to comprehend is active, usable and demanding their response.  Video games change this.

To learn biology, students may finally get a chance to dissect a frog, but until that point they were looking at text books, movies, illustrations, reading and discussing.  When it comes to molecules and their functions, these topics are “abstract,” difficult to introduce, and even more difficult to testThe video game Immune Attack lets players activate individual proteins and see what effect they have on the body.  Immune Attack is listed as the #1 game at because it is popular with players.  As a further example, the video game, Discover Babylon (available for free at, shows players real artifacts from library collections displayed not on sterile shelves, but in use by real families in ancient times.  Also a highly popular game, rates it at #3.

It is this interaction which makes teaching tools such as video games so vital to education.  They provide immersion within the context of what is being learned.  Students become the activity about which they are learning.  They are the cell which experiences the energy boost when the right protein locks in; they feel the tense desperation of being a white blood cell fighting the uncontrollable growth of an infection.  In short, through games they are involved in the content they are studying.

We’ve been conducting play tests with middle and high school students of our Immune Attack I (AI-I) and while statistics are still being compiled, I can say that watching how the students interact with the game and then seeing the analytics recording the knowledge they have gained has been fascinating.  It continues to reinforce my conviction that video games, gamiifcation of content (which means adding game-oriented elements such as health meters and leaderboards) and other forms of interactive learning will become the norm of how we choose to educate people of all ages in the near future.

What is going on at FAS Learning Tech?

Here are a few places where you can hear Melanie Stegman speaking about Immune Attack2 development, how to use Immune Attack in a classroom and how learning games (should optimally) get made.  Melanie is also very interested in getting feedback from teachers, so if you are at any other these events, step up and say hey.   Or send an email.  Leaving a comment is nice, too.

Invited Speaker
Harrisburg University Pitch Workshop
October 19th, 2011

Invited Speaker
eTech Ohio
Feb 13-15, 2012 Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, OH
eTech Ohio hosts the third largest state educational technology conference in the country where more than 6,500 educational innovators gather once a year and share their successes and challenges with one another. The conference is an opportunity for educators to honestly share their experiences—what works, and what doesn’t—for the benefit of their peers.
**I will be presenting Immune Attack 2 to teachers in a presentation and getting their feedback in all day workshops.**