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Teaching Kids to Think like Scientists with Online Gaming

Adults look at computer Using online gaming as a learning tool, two seventh-grade science teachers at Amherst Middle School now have one more method to help their students build broad science literacy.


The school is partnering with Immersed Games, an edutech startup that developed Tyto Online, a multi-player game for learning multiple areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Immersed Games was one of the winners in the 2018 43North tech startup contest.


Stacey Susi and Nancy Claxton, seventh-grade science teachers, will integrate the Tyto Genetics module into their science curriculum for more than 200 seventh-graders this year. They were recently trained by Immersed Games Founder Lindsey Tropf on the platform that will use a storyline of people who have left Earth and will live on a new planet. Watch the WIVB feature story.


In much the same way kids play online games where characters engage in scenarios online, Tyto Online builds science and engineering content literacy when students solve an invasive species problem, build ecosystem and breed dragons.


Students will create a game avatar and an apartment to live in on the new planet. Throughout the game, they are reading and asking questions to absorb the content. Many of the scenarios will require deep problem-solving skills and content knowledge to move through the game sessions. The genetics module in the game aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards performance expectations.


“Implementing the Next Generation Science Standards requires higher level thinking and problem solving. The Tyto programming is a great way to bridge technology and the new demands,” said Mrs. Claxton.


The game is designed so Mrs. Claxton and Mrs. Susi can assign standards-aligned content and receive student assessments based on gameplay.


"This is a way to allow kids to figure out science through video games while learning using the NGSS," said Stacey Susi.