"Learning is remembering what you’re interested in." -- Richard Saul Wurman
Children love video games. They are captivated by them. We've all seen the toddler with an iPad who can't read but can navigate to their game of choice with no assistance. Your teenagers’ heads can be buried deep in their phones playing Angry Birds or on the couch playing the latest console game for hours.
But when students are in class, dealing with some of the same science and math that are at the heart of those games, their teachers struggle to hold their attention for longer than a few minutes.
If students create their own video games they can better learn geometry, trigonometry and coding.
Science, technology, engineering and math subjects are not engaging today's students because the students cannot relate them to their interests and what excites them. What if we peeled back the curtain and harnessed our children's attention for video games by teaching STEM topics while they create their own games?
Trigonometry is used to calculate a player’s movement around the game world. Those angry birds you fling are using physics to drive the velocity and the impact on those pigs and bricks. Geometry is used to draw the characters that your children idolize. Millions of lines of code are written by computer scientists to drive the game engines used for blockbuster video games.
Curriculums like Activate and Globaloria are available for teachers to include video games in their lesson plans. Game development tools are readily accessible to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection. Programs like GameMaker andGameSalad are free to download and include tutorials. Products like Beta: The Gameand Game Star Mechanic teach children basic coding, game design and analytical thinking skills. Extracurricular youth programs like BlackGirlsCode.org,GirlsWhoCode.org, the ClubTech program, Code.org and more are available to kids who are interested in learning how to code.
There is a small movement reforming the way we teach STEM, but it is a slow trickle compared to the increasing technical demands of our globalized and connected world. Without a unified and modernized STEM education curriculum that holds our students' attention, our children will continue to lag behind in the very subjects that hold the keys to their future.