Tag Archives: high school

Teachers role in a high tech classroom

Everyone seems to have an opinion about teacher’s role in the classroom of the future.  Some claim that teachers should get out of the way and let kids simply have unfettered access to the internet.  Others imagine a classroom in which teachers curate the vast world of information that is available and facilitate students’ understanding.  Certainly, there is more to learn in any subject than any one person could be an expert in.  How can we take the best advantage of technology in the classroom?

Please share your comments below!  I am preparing a blog post addressing the role of teachers in the future, and I would appreciate your thoughts and any resources!

 

Students at Shadow Mountain High School, Phoenix, AZ Recommend Immune Attack

Wonder whether your students will like Immune Attack? Wonder whether it is game enough to hold their attention? Well watch this video.

And oh, if you work for a AAA video game company you can reach me by email!

Thank you to Debbie Kovesdy, her students and the biology teachers who participated in our evaluation. If YOU would like your students to participate in our evaluation, please let me know! We need more students to strengthen our data… We have significant gains in LEARNING and CONFIDENCE. Be a part of a revolution in learning and in gaming!

Register here!!!!

USA Science and Engineering Festival!

At the USA Science and Engineering Expo, we had a great time introducing our “free Video Game” to 4000 people. While kids of all ages ran into our booth to see for themselves whether Immune Attack was any good or not, parents were happy to hear that our video game is about white blood cells fighting bacteria. The main character isn’t a military character, it’s a Microbot. It’s main weapon is a ray gun that activates proteins.

The crowd at the USA Science and Engineering expo was curious and eager to hear about real science! Some high school kids wanted to talk about careers in science. FAS is a science policy think tank, so we had plenty to talk about! Additionally, video game production requires many different types of scientific, mathematical and engineering related skills. Someone needs to design the game and designing means testing to find out whether the game is fun. Testing means experimental design! Which audience finds your game fun? And what is your control game? Then someone will program the game. Someone else is an expert at drawing three-dimensional objects using software like Maya, Studio Max, or Cinema4D. Then still another artist uses other software to create all of the backgrounds. Then another artist uses more technology to create the characters. And if you are making a realistic video game, then someone serves as a subject matter expert and makes sure the historical context is correct, or that the science in the Microbot is accurate… I could go on and on. See below for links to art and biological science in particular:

I enjoyed meeting all of you. Please support technology in our schools! Why? Because you can’t see viruses, you can’t see bacteria. You can’t see proteins. But you can see them in a video game! Imagine learning soccer, but never being shown the field. Previously, we did not have ways to see bacteria and proteins, but now we do! And the new data is being used by many people in the Medical Illustration Field to create videos and diagrams that explain the molecular science that affects our everyday lives.

Here are some examples of great medical illustration resources:

The Association of Medical Illustrators

The book: The Machinery of Life

The Biomedical Communications department at the University of Texas Southwestern.

NIAID and Innovative Education Programs

Immune Attack 2.0 is being developed with funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).  The NIAID funds research in everything from basic viral replication mechanisms to innovative AIDS treatments, from basic

To read more about the NIAID and their work, you can download their PDF, or see their website.   Today, the NIAID published a report on the educational programs the fund.  And that includes, of course, Immune Attack 2.0.  So, go read the report on all the great innovative work the NIAID is sponsoring for educating the next generation of Scientists!

Cellcraft puts you in the driver seat of a cell

So, how do cells avoid viruses? If you wonder, try playing the game CellCraft.  It is a terrific game for middle school students or anyone.   Check it out, give the Cellcraft team some props on their forum, and then tell me what you like about the game.

cellcraftgame.com

www.kongregate.com Play Cellcraft here!

Immune Attack address more molecular detail, but we are trying to do essentially the same thing: teach people how cells actually operate at the molecular level.  The world of the Cell is frankly a fascinating huge place and it should be explored in as many ways as possible, games, stories, videos, it is a rich place for storytelling with many many points of conflict… between cells and viruses, human cells and bacteria, DNA vs damaging radicals…There are endless stories to tell!

Congratulations to the Cell Craft Team!  And thank you!

Want to Design Science Video Games?

We need you!

FAS Educational Technology Program is collaborating with Muzzy Lane Software to create a series of video games that help middle school students and teachers prepare for middle school science proficiency exams.  The collaboration is intended to draw in teachers, students, game designers and anyone interested to contributing to the design of the games.  Since middle school science covers a wide range of topics (Physical, Chemical, Earth and Life sciences) there is something to interest everyone.  The collaboration is called The Clear Lab Project, and is funded by a SBIR grant from DARPA to Muzzy Lane.

To get involved, go to the project website, http://clearlabproject.com/

Soon, you will be able to access our very first draft of a game design.  You can also find a “Game Design Template,” which is a list of the necessary components of an excellent video game design draft.

I look forward to many rewarding interactions with many of you as we design games for science together!

Making Molecular Biology Video Games!

McKinley Technology High School students, and other students from across Washington, DC, learned to make their own video games this summer, using a program called Game Maker.  They also learned to create their own 3D images. What kind of games dis they make?   What kinds of objects did they model?

Well, this summer at McKinley Tech kids made games about gene regulation and inter neuronal signaling.  And the 3D Models they made are of Neurons, their Myelin sheath and of motor proteins carrying their cargo to the end of axons.  Not what you expected, is it?

Immune Attack can teach players about the molecular processes in the game.  But Immune Attack also inspires students to make their own game.

When I go over to McKinley Tech to talk to the students, I usually find fun looking images on their computer desktop backgrounds.  Popular singers, movies, and animation characters all show up on the computers… but this summer, on my third visit, I noticed that one of the desktop background images was changed to a really neat image taken with a scanning electron microscope of an artery full of red blood cells.

I went to McKinley 4 times this summer, once a week. I gave an initial 30 minute introduction into basic neurology (really basic, I mean I’m a biochemist, not a neuologist.)   I explained the was ion channels allow an electrical impulse to travel from the cell body to the end of the axon.  I explained how Myelin helps speed the electrical impulse.  I explained that receptors on the cell body receive chemical signals and certain combinations of those signals can cause the electrical impulse to start.   And I explained how some chemical signals cause a signal inside the cell that sends in turn another signal to alter gene expression.  Yes, that is right: I explained a LOT more molecular biology than High School sophomores ever learn.

But these kids we not learning biology, they were learning how to listen to a “subject matter expert” and how to design a video game based on what she says. While I talked their eyes darted about and I could see creative sparks all around. After my presentation I fielded questions for 30 more minutes.

Each time I returned to McKinley, I fielded another 20 minutes of intense questions from each of 4 groups of Game Maker students. The 3D modeling students, who are using Maya, asked many questions, too. But their models clearly showed that they had done a lot of excellent research independently.

Here is the story that eSchool News wrote about our four week project:

http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=60054

And finally, I need to thank Dr. Kevin Clark, professor in the George Mason University Instructional Technology, and Mr. Rick Kelsey STEM coordinator of McKinley Tech for inviting me to participate in their summer technology program.

If you are interested in having your students create video games about molecular biology, contact me.  Creating a learning is an objective that requires much learning and makes it fun at the same time.

The games and the moels that the McKinley students made will be posted soon!

Art Imitating Life Science

So, we make a video game intended to teach students Immunology and cell biology.  So we are obviously interested in the many ways that a creative media like video games, graphic design, song writing, story writing, and even music video can be used to present science effectively.  And let is also remember that the process of writing that story is actually a rigorous course of education for the author.   Students that make games, songs and stories based on science have to learn the science first…..  And here is my latest discovery:  Regulatin Genes.  Enjoy it for yourself.  And pass it on to your students and friends.

You can contribute your own video to us, and also watch for the next Hotchalk/FAS Virtual Science Fair!