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Games, Projects, & Educational Resources

Barbara Chamberlin, NMSU Learning Games Lab

It is important to note that these projects are not "mine" alone. Each project included a team of talented individuals. My role in each varied, but in few cases was I the sole contributor. For more information on my role or the team involved in a particular project, please contact me. In the credits of the games you will find a complete list of team members.

Recent Educational Games

  • Math Snacks (Funded by the National Science Foundation)
    Math Snacks is a research and development project targeting 6th- and 7th-grade students and frequently misunderstood math concepts. This project includes development of a significant collection of games and animations (including mobile apps) and supplemental learning materials, as well as a comprehensive, randomized control trial test evaluating effectiveness of materials and recommendations for classroom use.
  • Eat and Move-o-Meter App (Funded by National 4-H Council)
    Based on the In and Out O Meter in the popular Eat, Move, Learn: An Exploration in Energy Balance project (eatmovelearn.org), this simple tool is designed to help 4-Hers grasp the caloric count of various foods and understand the amount of time it takes to burn those calories through exercise. Users can randomly play with each of the spinning wheels to discover foods, or intentionally select different foods or different activities to make comparisons. It is available online and as an app for iPad and iPhone.
  • Ninja Kitchen (Funded by US Department of Agriculture)
    Based on the success of the Science Pirates game in helping young teens understand scientific bases for food safety recommendations, we wanted to create a tool that would give youth a chance to practice employing those recommendations in a fun, and relevant way. Initial research and focus group testing established food safety knowledge of the target audience, as well as the types of food preparation youth ages 12-15 are engaged in. In Ninja Kitchen, the game player must serve customers in a ninja-themed restaurant, gradually learning different processes and requirements for hand-washing, cooking food to proper temperatures, washing surfaces and produce, and keeping cooked, raw and dirty foods separate.
  • Don't Be Gross (Funded by US Department of Agriculture)
    Designed to influence mid-school students using social norms, the Don't Be Gross project includes a series of short animations that encourage hand washing and discourage unhealthy behaviors, such as sharing water bottles and eating food that has dropped on the floor.
  • Virtual Science Labs (Funded by US Department of Agriculture)
    Project partners found that underrepresented undergraduate students from rural areas often enter labs in college environments and feel out of place or uncertain. Their initial research indicated that this population often had no experience in science labs, with schools limited in funding and teachers untrained in modern lab processes. They theorized that by exposing these students to a virtual lab, they could familiarize students with the vocabulary, tools, and appearance of lab science. The collection of virtual labs (six are currently available with two more in design), gives users the opportunity to engage in simulated science processes (such as gram staining, or wet or dry swabbing an area), then draw conclusions based on data collected. While the users complete the process in this simulated environment, the goal of the tools is not to educate them specifically in the processes but to build familiarity and comfort with working science environments.
  • Treadsylvania (Funded by National 4-H Council and the Small Vehicle Industry Association)
    Our client partners initially requested we create a game for youth who ride ATVs (four-wheelers), making it fun to learn about the safety guidelines (don't ride on pavement; don't ride with a second passenger; use protective gear; ride clear trails). Throughout our design process, it became clear that youth who own their own ATV are likely to participate in the excellent training programs and classes available: it was youth who did not own an ATV or realize that in the future, they would have access to one, who were most likely to suffer a serious accident. We restructured the learning outcomes and goals so that any youth would want to play this game, even if they initially had no interest in riding ATVs. The emphasis was not placed on the experience of riding, but on a movie-monster narrative told through a visual, graphic novel format. Game players must rid the town of a series of monsters, who thwart them by forcing them to engage in unsafe behaviors. Players have the opportunity to, for example, understand the role that shifting weight and position on the ATV has on steering it, coming to understand how difficult it is to steer with a second passenger.
  • Exergames Unlocked (Funded by USDA-NIFA)
    Inspired by our work with kids in the Learning Games Lab, we wanted to investigate the potential of active video games to encourage physical activity in a variety of audiences. In addition to funding original research on the physiological, social and psycho-social outcomes, the project has funded over 15 implementation projects, including school-based exergame dancing at the beginning of the school day and exergames in after-school programs and community centers, workplace interventions, and public environments. The website includes videos, product reviews, tip sheets, and recommendations on using exergames with a variety of audiences.
  • Beef Jerky Interactive Training (Funded by US Department of Agriculture)
    Small-scale beef jerky processors often rely on friends and family members to prepare their jerky. In addition, there is so much variation from one processor's method to another's, it is difficult to issue overriding guidelines for food safety to all processors. This tool, available in English and Spanish, is a effective way for processors and their staff to go through their own beef jerky process, specifying their approach (for example, dry rub, v. boiling), and identifying HAACP points and food safety processes relevant to their own process.
  • Science Pirates: The Curse of Captain Brownbeard (Funded by US Department of Agriculture (CSREES))
    Designed to help mid-school youth understand the science behind food safety behaviors, this in-depth pirate adventure game offers 2 hours of game play and meets national standards for science education. Originally designed to teach food safety recommendations Science Pirates was funded through USDA's National Research Initiative food safety program. Science Pirates excels in teaching science processes, models inquiry-based learning in games, and ends with a culminating activity that applies learned science processes and experiment design to a common problem in food safety - adequate hand washing. An external evaluation with 585 middle school students found the game improved student learning and science inquiry skills overall. Students' low or medium beginning ability improved significantly, with medium effect sizes of .58 and .41 respectively.
  • Chinese Food Safety (Funded by US Department of Agriculture (CSREES))
    Aimed at American food service workers who speak Chinese, this multi-state, multimedia education program has been distributed nationwide in Cantonese, Mandarin and English. Five games and animations help food service workers internalize important data and change behavior regarding dishwashing practices, rice temperature, accepting safe foods, hand washing procedures, and possible risk in the kitchen. The website also includes animations and downloadable presentations and materials for classroom instruction.
  • Carve Your Path: Career Exploration (Funded by New Mexico Carve Your Path)
    Several cooperating departments within the state government (labor, education, continuing education) requested a tool with which teens could explore careers, particularly in terms of their interests, existing skills, and the flexibility and financial security specific decisions guaranteed. We conducted extensive user testing with multiple versions of this tool, until we created an interactive "toy" that users found was fun to play with, as they experimented with different settings to find different careers. A primary goal was to expose mid school kids to a variety of careers, beyond those that with which they are already familiar. Referencing an extensive database of careers (including info on salary, related positions, interests, and personality profiles), the tool gives youth the chance to explore different positions and draw their own conclusions about the role education has on their employability. Final release pending update of database.
  • Nutrition Decision
    This series of games helps middle school students make better choices when selecting food by better understanding nutritional labels, serving sizes and the importance of activity.
  • Food Pyramid Game
    The main objectives of this game was to teach school-aged children about the Food Guide Pyramid in a fun and innovative way. (No longer available)

Instructional Design

  • Delivery by Design
    When do you use a website, and when is a CD-ROM more appropriate? This presentation guides you though your media choices when developing interactive instruction.
  • QTVR in Museums
    This brief site discusses the use of QuickTimeVR in Museums, citing examples of its use and offering resources for additional information.

Digital Images

  • 4-H Digital Photography Project
    This pilot digital photography project includes 6 learning sessions, with accompanying handouts, presentations (with speaker's notes included), tutorials and links to KidSnaps.
  • KidSnaps
    This online digital photography site for youth is a key component in a new 4-H Digital Photography project, encouraging an online learning community and giving kids the opportunity to post photos and provide feedback on other's photos.
  • Photographic Analysis
    How powerful can single images be in education? Review this series of photos and try to determine which photo is not from 1969. This series was originally designed for a Ceiva digital picture frame.
  • Photoshop Tutorials
    From the basics of opening and saving files to more advanced concepts (such as using Alpha Channels), these tutorials offer practice files to download and step-by-step instructions for both Photoshop and Photoshop Elements

Technology in the K-12 Classroom

  • Technology Coordinator: Re-defining the Role
    A group of University of Virginia students issued a call for a new role in schools, that of a technology coordinator. This site explains the differences between a technology coordinator and a traditional technical support person, delineates how this role can assist infusion of technology in classes, and includes a job description.
  • The Invaders! Webquest
    Developed with other students, this webquest encourages students to 'consult on a Hollywood script' regarding what is known about invasive species.