Kelly and I did our Stop Animation project on Jackie Robinson. We are both really interested in sports and he was a very important person in baseball as well as in the fight for Civil Rights. Our video addresses the SS2H1 Standard for 2nd Grade- “The Student will read about and describe the lives of Historical People in Georgia History.” I think the use of pictures in this video help tell the story really well an provide a better understanding than if we were just reading or talking about Jackie Robinson. We kept it kind of simple because it was just for second graders, but still taught a lot about Jackie Robinson and the struggles he went through. I think our creativity shows in the music choice for this video. We worked hard to find the song we felt matched up best with our story. I think using the same cutout of Jackie’s head was also creative and helped the story flow nicely. I think young students trying to learn more about Jackie Robinson and historical figures can benefit from this video. Also, I think teachers could find it helpful to show in the classroom because it it very short and concise but gives a good summary of Jackie Robinson. I think I would tell other students that are trying to make a video to take lots of pictures!!! You can never have too many pictures. Make sure the movements are very small to make it flow smoothly and choosing the right music is very important.
I was a little worried I would eventually get bored with my genius hour project since we worked with it for so long, but I actually really enjoyed it! I learned that a lot of people are actually in favor of educational video games. I thought there would be a lot more people against them because of the stigma against video games at a young again. However, I was pleasantly surprised that man people are very open to the idea of using video games to supplement and encourage a child’s learning.
If I were to present this project, I would have the group to whom I was presenting play an educational video game, such as Lemonade Stand or Roller Coaster Tycoon. I would then ask what skills this helped improve and how they could see it supplementing what a child is already learning in school. I would then present some of the statistics which show how many children already play video games regularly and how many parents are okay with their child’s video game usage. I wild also use direct quotes from my interview with Jake to show that kids actually do enjoy these kinds of games.
I think after doing this project I am much more open to the idea of kids using video games. When I have my own kids, I would definitely let hem play these kinds of games. If I do end up becoming a teacher, I would definitely be likely to recommend to use of games to help strengthen what we are already learning in the classroom.
After interviewing Jake for my fourth post, I was really interested to find out more about whether or not students actually enjoyed educational video games. Every article I found that described the types of educational games kids would enjoy featured games that were more or less disguised. Yes, they were educational, but they didn’t come right out and say “hey come play me so you can learn something!” This fit almost exactly with what Jake said about not wanting to play strictly educational games. Kids are much more likely to play and enjoy these games if they are fun and not overtly learning games.
I was also interested to see the type of demographic that plays the most video games. According to the Entertainment Software Association, over 155 million Americans play video games, 4 out of 5 houses have a video game device, and 42% of Americans play video games regularly. That’s a TON of people! However, I was more interested in student populations that my project is more focused on. According to the same study, 26% of regular game players are under 18 years old. This is the key population my project will be focusing on so its really important to know that over 1/4 of gamers are students who could benefit from educational video games (well everyone can benefit… but that’s for a different project).
Finally, I wanted to research how parents feel about their children playing video games. The ESA says the 63% of parents believe video games are a positive part of their child’s life. Obviously this is really important to my project because parents are a huge factor on whether or not a child will, or is allowed to, play a video game. A lot of parents even said that they enjoy playing video games with their children or as a whole family.
In order to get a better understanding of my genius hour topic, I decided to interview University of Georgia student Jake Jensen,22, about his experience with educational video games. He said that while he had never used a video game or app to learn something specific, there were a lot that he played that helped him with general cognitive development or practice skills he already had. He referenced an iPhone game he enjoyed called “Okay?”, pictured below. The game is played by bouncing a ball off of shapes in order to make the disappear. He said that while he already knew the physics concepts employed in this game, he liked playing it to practice his skills and progress through the different levels of increasing difficulty.
Screenshot of the game “Okay?”
I asked him if he remembered any games growing up that helped him learn in school. He didn’t recall any, and said he enjoyed sports video games more than puzzle or educational games. However, he did remember playing the game Lemonade Stand (part of coolmathgames.com). In this game, you are given a small start up allowance and try to make as much money as you can in 30 days. You must buy ingredients and products then try to sell your lemonade. He said he didn’t play it to specifically learn anything, but he could see how it would help his math and time management skills.
Finally, I asked him if he would be more or less willing to play a video game or app if he it was educational. He said that as a kid, he would probably not want to play a video game if he knew it was supposed to be teaching him something. He also said, however, that if it was fun enough and wan’t obviously educational, he would probably still be interested. He said in high school and college he would definitely be willing to use video games to help him brush up on or practice old or new concepts. “If you’re going to need to know this stuff anyways, you may as well learn and practice it in a fun way,” he stated.
I have been having so much fun researching the use of video games as educational tools! Like I said in my previous post, we are learning that not only are there tons of positives to this, but also some potential negatives.
For example, an article published in Forbes last year, provides a lot of evidence saying that video games are very helpful in education– even going as far to claim that they can make kids smarter. The author also makes a very good point that I never even stopped to consider: video games are often relatively inexpensive and accessible. In fact, Roller Coaster Tycoon and Cool Math Games are both completely free (as long as you have an internet connection). Another article we read, this one from Huffington Post, made a lot of great arguments for video games as educational tools. One of the ones I found most interesting was that video games are a very social activity. Not only can students use video games to solidify difficult concepts, but they can work on communication and interpersonal skills as well!
However, we also found quite a bit of negatives for this topic. Scientific American states that video games will never be able to do it all in terms of education. While we are focusing more on support of already learned concepts, rather than trying to teach new ones, it is important to realize that video games have their own place in an educational system and shouldn’t be overused. The same article also discusses the lack of increased test scores or better development after using educational video games. We believe, however, that test scores aren’t always necessarily the best gauge for a child’s knowledge or full grasp of a subject. If they can figure out how to run a lemonade stand or theme park, then they understand budgeting– whether their test score shows it or not.
In order to find these articles, I chose to use Google instead of a more scholarly search engine. I believe that because they are all from large, well known sources that they are still very reliable and accurate. I chose this method because scholarly articles are often very difficult to understand and take a long time to find the information you are looking for.
So far, while researching our Genius Hour Project, Kelly and I have learned a lot. One of the biggest thing we’ve learned is that there are lots of pros AND cons for using video games as educational tools. For example, video games can keep kids really engaged in what they are trying to learn. However, they also contribute even more time to the many hours these students are already spending in from top a screen. This is just one of many examples. It seems as though for every pro, there is an equally as convincing con.
The hashtags #educationgames and #funmath have led us to a lot of cool activities that will keep the kids really engaged in what they are learning. Twitter is such an awesome resource for connecting with people who are looking into the same topic.
Kelly and I are planning to do our Genius Hour project on different video games and apps that are fun for kids but also can teach them. Particularly, we are going to focus on games that can help students practice skills they will use in real life. We think this is super relevant because it shows that K-12 students can do a lot of meaningful learning outside of school, while still having fun. It’s very relevant to K-12 students because there is no way they can possibly learn everything in school- they must learn and practice some things outside of the classroom.
For apps, we are going to look into Roller Coaster Tycoon and GarageBand. Roller Coaster Tycoon is a fun game in which you build and maintain your own theme park. This shows students time and money management skills. They can also be creative in the design of their parkland roller coasters. We are also going to showcase GarageBand, an app that lets kids explore different musical instruments and editing tools.
We will also be exploring the internet games Lemonade Stand and Traveler IQ Challenge. Lemonade Stand, in a similar way to Roller Coaster Tycoon, teaches kids how to manage their time and money while running a lemonade stand. They must adjust prices and buy supplies. Traveler IQ Challenge is a fun game in which kids are given the name of a location and must try and get as close as possible on a map. This helps kids learn about the world and the geography of different areas.
For more info on this topic, check out @EducationalGame and @coolmathgamess on Twitter. Also explore the hashtags #educationgames and #funmath.