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Games plus maker equals engaged learning

By Team ISTE
June 28, 2016
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The maker movement and game-based learning are two hot topics in ed tech right now. So it makes sense to mash them up for even more engaged learning. Try these three lesson ideas that pair games and making in the classroom.

Build math stories in Minecraft. If you’ve seen the movie or read the book, you know The Martian is always doing math and science. When Kae Novak, chair of the ISTE Games and Simulations Network, put down her popcorn, she realized she had an excellent blueprint for making.

She teamed up with a colleague, and together they dreamed up a way for students to solve a math problem and then create a Martian storyline in Minecraft to illustrate the problem and the solution.

Embrace puzzles. Some entertainment venues have created puzzle rooms where you are locked in a room and must escape using your smarts to untangle the clues and find a way to turn that knob turn before time runs out.

Educators can help students either create puzzles that might be at home in a puzzle room or create a classroom puzzle room and challenge students to solve their way out.  

Novak is currently working on a puzzle using Makey Makey that's tied to middle school science standards and asks students to find something in a puzzle room that will allow a circuit to open a door (think aluminum foil).

Game design marathon. Create your own daylong game design event like the Global Game Jam at the University of Denver. Students with coding skills can create digital games and those who prefer analog can make a board game based on their hobbies or interests. Students can create board games using terms and vocabulary from science or English class. Minecraft players can re-create a historical site and build a game around it.  

The idea is to concentrate students' intentions and work on something over a long period of time, Novak says.

“It’s not just declarative knowledge. It’s tactile and it’s also problem solving,” Novak says of the games/maker pairing. “It’s really having to see that there is a problem and the problem needs to be solved.”

Get more ideas on how to fuse gaming and maker activities in your classroom at ISTE 2017.