IML project encourages interactivity
Posted February 6, 2013 at 11:41 pm in News
These are not your average video games: there are no car chases, no battlefields and no farms. Instead, students play this game to learn.
The Institute for Multimedia Literacy and the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences teamed up with the Education and Public Outreach component of the NASA-funded project ‚ÄúLife Underground.‚ÄĚ
The multimedia component corresponds to research being done at a NASA-funded center that looks at life in the Earth‚Äôs subsurface, micro-organisms that live in the ground, so that NASA might eventually use this project‚Äôs procedures on other planets and moons to determine if there is life outside Earth.
The multimedia project, which will be designed as a 3D game called Unity, seeks to encourage cognitive development through the use of interactive video games.
Holly Willis, the director of academic programs at IML, hopes the project can communicate NASA‚Äôs research in a way that will excite another generation about science.
‚ÄúCommunicating [NASA‚Äôs] scientific findings to a broad audience is one of the things they‚Äôre very committed to,‚ÄĚ Willis said.
The project, designed for sixth grade students studying earth science, seeks to develop an understanding of microbial life systems that live underground on Earth and other planets.
‚ÄúThe project itself is investigating life deep underground in conditions that are very extreme,‚ÄĚ Willis said.
IML will work with professors and undergraduate students across the university to study and research the changing nature of literacy across different media. The team is developing software that allows sixth graders to learn about microbial life systems by playing the role of either an underground microorganism or a scientific investigator.
The project, inspired by James Gee‚Äôs 2003 book What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, highlights the vital contribution that game-based learning has on education.
As a virtual microorganism, students can navigate a simulation of the subterranean world. ‚ÄúWe hope that the virtual world will be deeply engaging and fun, while also being educational,‚ÄĚ Willis said.
In addition to the 3D game, Willis said they also hope to launch an educational website including videos showcasing the team‚Äôs research. The project, which began in January, is expected to take three years to complete.
The scientific research that corresponds with the video game¬† will take place over the next five years. The center has a team of eight researchers from USC, CalTech, the Desert Research Institute and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.