A game is not just a game in SMALLab, it becomes a fun physical learning experience and can help students learn with the most challenging subjects in school.
“In order to take learning to the next level, there’s an experiment in Pittsburgh that brings game designers closer to the educators who want games for learning. The hope is that by working together, within the school, game designers can create products that more directly meet teachers’ needs. For example, when English Language Arts teachers at Elizabeth Forward Middle School were asked to identify an area of the curriculum kids loathe, they named grammar. The teachers then worked with graduate students at the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to develop learning games.” – Katrina Schwartz, Mind/Shift
Graduate students from CMU designed games for SMALLab to address the specific struggles students experienced around grammar. The team created “a space race game in which students choose pronouns from meteors at the bottom of the mat and put them into their own spaceship. Groups race against one another to launch a rocket into space first.” Built for embodied learning, SMALLab spaces are designed to get students moving, while discussing their answers and collaborating in the space.
With only three wands, students often work in groups, discussing strategy, what answers are correct and how to win. They are physically choosing words for their spaceships and working as a team.
Egan says she’s seeing results in her students. “I’ve seen a big shift in ability level,” she said. “It doesn’t matter who you are in there with, they all step up to the challenge and take things on.”