SERIOUS GAMING AS AN EDUCATIONAL APPROACH: INITIATIVES DESIGNED TO ENGAGE AT-RISK STUDENTS WITH GEOSCIENCES AND HANDS-ON COMPUTATIONAL SKILLS
According to feedback from prospective employers, students with strong science and technical skills combined with the ability to work collaboratively, who understand the context of decision making and policy, and can communicate to diverse stakeholders will be competitive in the current and anticipated job market. The demand for trained professionals is expected to grow 78% nationally and 48% in Texas from 2006 to 2016 (US Dept of Labor) emphasizing the need for effective mechanisms to attract, engage, train, and ultimately recruit the next generation of geoscientists.
Connally High School in Pflugerville, TX is responding through a combined Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathmatics (STEAM) curricula. The new serious game training program brings an at-risk high school perspective and builds an audience through digital media. To date students have created video games for green energy, health and wellness, Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Formula1/Circuit of Americas. Next steps include an experimental design to evaluate social and science-based learning through the development of serious game applications. Students emerge workforce ready with skills in computational programming and human dimensions. Games for Serious Change: Social Games for the Digital Age, a 4-year career path program involves parents, families and local communities for innovation and evolution. Stories and games from the students will be presented as they give definition and voice to what it means to be local in the mobile world and how geosciences topics are incorporated into games.