STEM: F1 in Schools

Quantum Victoria will be hosting the Victorian State Finals of the F1 in Schools Competition on the 8th & 9th of November 2012.

Having written about how I think this is an amazing STEM project before, this is the task that student teams embrace:

  • Design and manufacture a miniature F1 Car to travel down a 20m track in the shortest possible time using a specified amount of energy.
  • Utilise Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software and wind tunnels to help perfect the aerodynamics of the design.
  • Utilise Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software to increase sustainability and reliability of the design.
  • Utilise Rapid Prototyping strategies to help construct components of their car.
  • Develop a 20 page portfolio which highlights the design iterations undertaken, the innovation included in the design and the interaction they had with industry through the design process.
  • Develop a marketing and promotions plan to sell their team’s capabilities and end product to industry. This includes the development of a 3m x 1m display booth.
  • Generate sponsorship by promoting their capabilities to industry and then manage all budget items associated with their team
  • Implement a communications strategy to ensure that sponsors are kept informed of progress
  • Make a 10-minute formal presentation to a panel of judges on their project highlighting the work they have undertaken, their innovation and what they have learnt by participating in the project.
  • Present to a panel of Engineers their design, the manufacturing strategies they have adopted and the unique engineering technologies they have applied to the development of their car.

After all this their end goal is to:

  • Attempt to break the 1-second barrier over the 20-metre track.
  • Win the best Engineered Car award.

Good luck to Victorian schools Kyabram P-12 CollegeTrinity Grammar as they head to Abu Dhabi for the World Finals.

Games for Change Festival

Join me at the 1st Games for Change Australia/New Zealand Festival in Melbourne on November 15th & 16th, 2012.

G4C ANZ showcases talks from over 30 practitioners who are using games as a medium for change and positive social outcomes across diverse sectors including:

• Education & training

• Learning & development

• Health & fitness

International keynote speakers include Heather Kelley, USA, “one of the most influential women in technology,” according to Fast Company, and Keita Takahashi, Japan, a celebrated game designer whose works radiate the positive powers of play.

Together with a host of Australian experts like Dean Groom, Bron Stuckey, Jess McCulloch, Dan Donahoo, Hamish Curry & Annabelle Astbury , this is one festival not to miss!

To register visit and enter promotional code G4C-Camm for a $300 discount off the price of full registration.

Hope to see you there!

The Learning (2.012) Continues

How cool is this?

After attending my Game-Based Learning extended session on Day 1 of Learning 2.012 and skyping her class during the session, Naynay Montilla has taken the concept of game modding and put it straight to use in the classroom.

During the session we talked about trajectories of student participation when ‘gaming’:

  • All students start as a newb
  • Students start gaining a certain level of mastery
  • Students start investigating winning strategies, optimal strategies, counter strategies etc.
  • Students start asking ‘What if…”

What happens if we change the rules? What variations can we introduce and how does this affect game play? Can we add bias to the game?

The original game in this instance was called the Game of 31. It is a two player game that is played with a standard deck of playing cards. The students from the International School of Manilla have got to work, added a variation and re-named it “Beachball: First to 21.”

Have a listen to one of their Grade 1 “Explanation Experts” explain their game 🙂

Makey Makey

The Internet of things is a vision.

It is being built today by the likes of the people at Makey Makey. MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. It turns everyday objects into touchpads and combines them with the internet. It’s a simple Invention Kit for doing art, engineering, and everything in between.

If you want to learn to use Arduino or other electronics, but want to start without any programming or breadboarding, MaKey MaKey is a good starting point. There’s no need to understand Arduino in order to use MaKey MaKey. For $39.99 it’s pretty neat.

Below is a short clip of something simple and fun happening at Quantum Victoria this morning. Enjoy.

Teacher As GameMaster

Imagine, for one minute, that education is a Massive Multiplayer Role Playing Game. The teachers are the game developers.

After years of trying to control their player’s experience, this is their new manifesto…

“While we sometimes imagine our game as a contained space and experience in which a player sits down, examines the rules, and begins to play (or begins to play and then examines the rules), we have failed by insisting on an outdated mindset of control and have not looked at the way our game space is co-constructed by a variety of agents.

Time & time again, we find that activities based on our often unconscious assumptions about player behavior, had completely unexpected outcomes. Sometimes these outcomes were complete failures.

It is clear that we are not in control. The more people we involved in something, the more money we spent on consultants and technology, the less in control we were. This illusory feeling of control made us lose sight of what our role really is.

We want people to continue to play our game well after reaching the win state. We can influence things, we can ask good questions, set up interesting situations, we could provide opportunities for things to happen – but we cannot dictate the outcome because it isn’t our game to play. It’s the player’s game.

We are teachers. We are but Gamemasters.”

(Note – A GameMaster’s role is traditionally defined as someone who weaves participants stories together into an over-aching aesthetic and narrative, someone who facilitates and creates environments in which players can interact and solves player disputes. They don’t control the players actions.)

The Multiplayer Classroom

In 2010, Jesse Schell gave a talk at DICE titled, “When Games Invade Real Life.” It’s a great talk – tongue-in-cheek about the much-hyped ‘gamification.’ During this talk, Schell mentioned Lee Sheldon, an Associate Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who at the time was using game design principles to re-think the college classroom. His book, The Multiplayer Classroom has been on my shelf since the beginning of 2012 and I have finally got around to having a read. It’s an interesting approach and Sheldon gives examples of it being successfully used in everything from game design, high school mathematics & history – basically the class is designed as a multi-player game.

Class time is divided between fighting monsters (tests, exams), completing quests (presentations, analysis, research) and crafting (essays, assignments, reports). The class is split into Guilds (small groups) and each member of the group takes on a role – Mage, Ranger, Warrior, Healer or Necromancer.

Everyone on day one is a Level One Character. Through Quests, Missions and Raids, characters from Guilds can level up by gaining XP, according to the following XP levelling chart.

Students are given the syllabus at the start with all requirements clearly given. Sheldon gives some examples:

·      Solo: Craft your own game proposal. (Written, 50 pts.)

·      Solo: Sell your game proposal to the class. (Extra credit. 25 pts.)

·      Raid: Guild reading presentation (75 pts. each person, 1 of these per guild)

·      Pick-Up Group: 2-Player reading presentation (150 pts. each person, cannot team with fellow guild member) OR

·      Solo: Craft 3 page analysis of MMO-based research topic (Written, 100 pts.)

·      Solo: Defeat Five Random Mobs (5 written reading quizzes, 250 pts. total, 1 extra credit question per quiz)

·      Solo: Defeat Level Boss (Midterm Exam, 400 pts.)

·      Guild: Craft Final Project: Video Game Concept (Written, 400 pts.)

·      Solo: Class attendance (300 skill pts. total, 10 to start. 290 additional pts. at 10 pts. per day of attendance)

·      Solo Camping: Glossary Building (Extra credit. 1 pt. per entry. 50 pt. cap per player. First come first served. Each mob only spawns once.)

·      Group: Peer Review Secret Ballot (Extra credit. 0-100 possible XP as follows:

1.     Guild Leader 100 pts.

2.     Raid Leader 75 pts.

3.     Solid Guild Crafter 50 pts.

4.     Needs Rez 25 pts.

5.     Leroy Jenkins 0 pts.

It’s a pretty novel approach. And I like it. Sort of. But saying to everyone when they enter class for the first time “You are all going to get an ‘F’ for this class, unless…” – isn’t that the same idea that all teachers give students? Classes have always been games if we use this idea. I mean, unless the student completes the work a teacher sets, to a certain standard, then they are going to get an F. (They start at 0%, complete assignments that adds ‘points’ to their cumulative score…)

What I would like to see instead is that on the first day of a new semester you wrote on the board,

“During the next 20 weeks you have the opportunity to become [expert/high-ranking game character/whatever] specializing in [subject area]. How you get there is up to you.” 

Now, that would be novel.