Can kids improve STEM skills by designing video games?

Apparently they can. This is the story of Rhy, a 10 years old boy from a small city near Austin, Texas.

Rhy uses a platform called Gamestar Mechanic to design his own videogames. Named one of the 2012 Best Educational Websites by the American Association of School Librarians, Gamestar Mechanic is one of the most popular solutions for the teachers who believe that game design can have a dramatic impact on their students engagement at school, and at home.

Designing games, the company says, builds:

  • Systems Thinking,
  • 21st Century Skills,
  • Creative Problem Solving,
  • Art and Aesthetics,
  • Writing and Storytelling,
  • and creates a motivation for STEMlearning.

Their video tutorial on their homepage is extremely clear and engaging. Take a look:

But what’s your experience with education and game design?

Apparently, the main problem is that it’s extremely hard to prove what kids are really learning when designing games. This is one of the most controversial parts of the debate around games and education. Even a guru of game design like Jane McGonigal says it in this great TED presentation.

So, you would have heard of his theory of success,the 10,000 hour theory of success.It’s based on this great cognitive science researchthat if we can master 10,000 hoursof effortful study at anythingby the age of 21, we will be virtuosos at it.We will be as good at whatever we doas the greatest people in the world.And so, now what we’re looking atis an entire generation of young peoplewho are virtuoso gamers.

So, the big question is, “What exactly are gamers getting so good at?” Because if we could figure that out, we would have a virtually unprecedented human resource on our hands. This is how many people we now have in the world who spend at least an hour a day playing online games. These are our virtuoso gamers, 500 million people who are extraordinarily good at something. And in the next decade we’re going to have another billion gamers who are extraordinarily good at whatever that is.

If you’re interested in Videogame design and STEM, or better if your students or your kids are designing games there’s an event you CAN’T miss. It’s 2013 National Stem Video Game Challenge, a national competition that motivates interest in STEM learning among America’s youth by tapping into students’ natural passion for playing and making video games. You can submit your game till April 24th! Hurry up!