From Gaming to Steaming

STEM Education Works Best Borrowing Gamer's Mentality In Gamification

by Dr. Kung-Li Deng (a.k.a Coach K)

The nature of our global, always-connected world has driven up the demand for STEM talent. Analysts, developers, and engineers are among the economic engines of the 21st century, seeking to solve complex problems using essential math, technology, and science skills. 

It All Sounds Good But...

...between rising international competition and an under-representation of women and minorities in STEM fields, the United States potentially faces a long-term STEM talent shortage: Just 16% of high school seniors are considered proficient in mathematics, and only 19% of bachelor’s degrees are issued in STEM fields in the U.S. Inspiring students to continue pursuing STEM-related careers is essential to maintaining the country’s competitive talent edge.

STEM Education Needs a Game-Changer!

Gamification presents a powerful opportunity to keep students interested and engaged in STEM education. Through the incorporation of game-like play into the classroom, gamification can be used as a motivational tool, to foster friendly competition, and to teach new skills through a highly engaging process. From aiding in cognitive development to keeping students interested in learning outside of the classroom, using game elements to make non-games more enjoyable can turn a traditional learning experience into a more memorable and long-lasting experience

Learning from the Game Industry - Don't Forget ART!

For students between grade five and middle school who already express a high interest in gaming, gamification in STEM education can serve as a natural extension of their existing interests and abilities. Just as today’s gaming industry incorporates a wide range of artistic talents to produce images, sounds, and stories, a STEAM curriculum, which folds art into science, technology, engineering, and math education, can help produce students that have an even more well-rounded set of skills.

Really, Game & STEAM education?

Although parents and educators may remain skeptical about a career in gaming itself, the growth of the gaming industry has developed an entire range of new career opportunities. And for young gamers who may not even be interested in a professional gaming-related career path, research suggests exposure to video game experiences can influence positive STEM attitudes that can boost minority students’ comfort with information and communication technologies.

Video gameplay, including games for entertainment, may be beneficial for young digitally divided populations as it may provide them with positive enactive experiences with technology.

Gaming the SySTEM: The Relationship Between Video Games and the Digital and STEM Divides by Christopher Ball, Kuo-Ting Huang, Shelia R. Cotten, R. V. Rikard

In a world where STEM professionals are in short supply, gamification makes it possible to open up new career paths and pique interest in STEM for young players. By transforming a student’s favorite after-school activity into a tool for long-term learning, borrowing the gamer’s mentality can help the U.S. close its STEM talent gap with individuals interested and excited to pursue careers using skills they’ve developed through fun and engaging applications.

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