Today at 2:04 pm EDT I will be on CNN with Ali Velshi discussing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)and my thoughts on how video games can be used as a vehicle to ignite student interest in these disciplines. For too long people have looked at video games as a source of negativity, social-isolation and a vehicle that’s dumbing down our youth. However, many of these opinions I have come across, tend to come from those who have NOT programmed a game, developed an animated character or tested bugs in a game. I have seen and have done these things, first hand. I have video game developers as friends and I have visited and have observed behind-the-scenes at video game companies. Bottom line: If you have never seen a video game developed then you you may be pretty clueless to its educational potential. In addition, I have spoken in person to over 9,000 kids in the last 14 months & I have a solid sense of what connects to them and gets them excited. And it’s the reason we hired 11 high school kids to create the 1st STEM social network: http://TechTechBoom.com
I often say “when you peel back the layers behind all the bright colors, shapes and action of a video game you’ll find Math, Physics, Engineering and Literature” and that’s true. Did you know before a character is created on-screen it’s essentially a polygon (a-hem Geometry)? To move (animate) a character requires an understanding of the laws of motion (a-hem Physics)! The development process requires programming and designing on an X & Y axis etc… (a-hem Algebra). The game has to make noise (a-hem sound engineers). Oh and you need creative writers who can develop characters, develop scenarios, outcomes and a plot (a-hem creative writing) – I could go on and on with this list!
My point is this, we need to meet kids WHERE THEY ARE, we need to MAKE EDUCATION RELEVANT! Yes, kids should be excited about Geometry but more kids are excited about creating games – if that is the hook to get them to learn math – why fight it?
The next time your kid is playing a video game ask them about the plot, the hypothetical scenarios and ask them how they would change the game, what would they design differently. You might be surprised at the answer.
And for my teachers that work so hard — let’s dissect the video game development process and create curricula about the STEM involved in making games.
What are your thoughts? Can video games play a role in the classroom? Can we increase student interest in Math and Science through gaming? Are you now a believer or still a skeptic of my position?