Games and play are a central part of childhood and can stimulate creativity and learning. As technology grows as a tool for teachers, one question has been: what role might educational video games play in the classroom?
Today, increasing numbers of teachers are incorporating games to supplement and enrich classroom instruction. In addition, students of all ages are developing their own games, as showcased in competitions and hackathons in communities across the country.
Ed Games Week brought the discussion on educational games to Washington, D.C. The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) collaboratively planned a series of events including the Ed Games Expo, the Ed Games Workshop, and the White House Education Game Jam.
The Ed Games Expo
The Ed Games Expo showcased 25 newly developed learning games developed with funding from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programs at ED’s Institute of Education Sciences (ED/IES SBIR) and other federal programs. More than 150 attendees met face-to-face with the developers and played games that covered a range of topics – from STEM, history, and foreign languages – and used a wide variety of genres for gameplay. For example:
- Addimal Adventure challenges children to solve mathematical equations with support of friendly characters.
- Zoo U helps grade school students navigate a series of challenging social situations.
- Reach for the Sun encourages deep understanding of photosynthesis as students grow a virtual sunflower from seed to full plant.
For more, check out the Office of Educational Technology YouTube channel:
The Ed Games Workshop brought together the Expo game developers and a team of federal experts. Workshop collaborators strategized exciting possibilities to create regional, national, or even international STEM game competitions featuring games that motivate as well as teach, such as through an X-Prize model. For more, see this article on the Clinton Foundation blog.
The White House Education Game Jam
Ed Games Week wrapped up with a 48-hour Education Game Jam that brought together over one hundred veteran and independent game developers, teachers, and students with the goal of creating educational games that make challenging K-12 topics easier for students to learn and for teachers to teach. Organized by the White House and Department of Education, developers were challenged to develop playable prototypes during the event. On Monday, Sept. 8, Game Jam participants presented videos of their games and demonstrated the prototypes at the White House. Twenty-three educational games were developed over the weekend including:
- Grub Run, a health and fitness game by Team Pixelopus
- President of the Galaxy, a game about the dynamics of U.S. presidential elections by Team 1st Playable
- Land Grab, a game highlighting a conceptual social behavioral model called the tragedy of the commons, by Team Filamentarians
You can find videos of all the game prototypes on the Office of Educational Technology YouTube channel:
Ed Metz is a developmental psychologist and the Program Manager for the Small Business Innovation Research Program at the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.
Russell Shilling is an experimental psychologist and the Executive Director of STEM Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Education.
Mark DeLoura is Senior Advisor for Digital Media at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.