A Teacher’s Reflections on the National STEM Video Game Challenge
November 10, 2011
Dan Caldwell was a finalist in the 2011 National STEM Video Game Challenge who inspired the creation of the Educator Prize.
Participating in the first National STEM Video Game Challenge has opened amazing doors for me, most importantly the opportunity to work full-time on my sciTunes Education Products Inc. curriculum. I have also had the pleasure to meet with a number of incredible people who have shared great insights with me, and I hope to continue to build and develop these professional relationships. One of the things I love most about my life right now is that I am learning so much!
So what’s this “sciTunes” all about…
sciTunes was born out of an assignment I gave to a group of middle school students I taught a few years ago. If you visit www.sciTunes.com you will see that I have created a complete curriculum that includes an audio CD with songs that teach students about the systems of the human body. This is where the name “sciTunes” came from. You will also find a number of HTML5 web games on the site. Both the music and games can be enjoyed for free at my website. What really makes this curriculum special is how it is all tied together by the sciTunes Human Body Student Activity Book. The music, games, and activity book, together form a complete curriculum that engages students in the learning process through many different ways of learning. After learning about the National STEM Video Game Challenge last year, I created a suite of games for pre-K through fourth graders that teaches the systems of the human body using game controls appropriate for kids in that age range. I am working to complete the final levels of those games for a full release on the App Store, but for now, my kids (age 4 and 6) are enjoying them!
I am currently in the process of completing the HTML5 web games for each of the systems of the human body and hope to have them completed soon. I also plan to release these games for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch and possibly for Android devices as well.
Once that is done I will begin working on the next sciTunes Curriculum Series. The difficult part is to decide what topic to tackle next. I love reading and learning about evolution and know from nine years of teaching that many middle school age students struggle to grasp the concept. An evolution unit with the possibility of an evolution/genetics combination will likely be my next project. I also think that a unit on ecology and environmental science would be very important considering the current state of the global climate. Either way, I am excited to continue writing songs, creating games, and tying it all together with learner-centered student activity books.
Learn more about scitunes.com.
Resources for educators:
- GameChanger: Investing in Digital Play to Advance Children’s Learning and Health by Ann My Thai, David Lowenstein, Dixie Ching, and David Rejeski
- Moving Learning Games Forward by Eric Klopfer, Scot Osterweil, and Katie Salen
- From the National Reseasrch Council: A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (PDF)
- Common Core Math Standards
See more at STEMChallenge.org.