Presented By CyGames
Selene: a lunar construction game

Teacher Blazes a Recruiting Path for WJU Videogame Research (cont.)

Date Posted: Wed Jul 18 2012

In Selene players learn difficult geological concepts like accretion, differentiation, impact cratering and volcanism by applying these science concepts to help players move toward the game's goal of building the Earth's Moon. Players construct the Moon, then pepper it with impact craters and flood it with lava to experience how our Moon formed and changed over time. All through the game Selene tracks each player's behavior to measure learning and the player's response to the game environment.

Ogden, who has taught at Woodcliff Lake for 10 years, said the game has been perfect for her students, and she plans to continue incorporating it into her classes. It ties in well with some other lunar activities she uses.

"When we began the game, the students were simultaneously involved with the NASA GRAIL MoonKAM, which allowed them to pick areas of the Moon for NASA to photograph and post," Ogden said. "I also immersed them in Moon lore, from legends to pop songs, to increase the excitement."

She scheduled the computer lab for play and did not assign homework during the Selene week so that students had time to complete the game at home.

"While I enforced that the students could not discuss the game, I did encourage competition over points earned and game completion time. We dedicated a bulletin board in our classroom to list the students who completed the game first. There was a second board to list our high scorers. Students who scored over 4,000 got their completion card laminated and acknowledged in class. Our one high scorer who made the leaderboard had his picture put in the local newspaper (with Selene information included for other teachers in the area)."

For the rest of the school year whenever students had free time, they were allowed to use the class computers to play Selene.

Ogden, who says science really sparks her curiosity and likes to make it "come alive" for students, was a semifinalist in 2011 for New Jersey for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching.

Reese says that great progress in cyberlearning research has been made thanks to the Selene game and recruiters like Ogden who sign up players.

"We're on the cutting edge of cyberlearning using instructional games with this project," Reese said. "The technology we've developed in Selene to assess when players are learning a concept—we can now tell the exact moment when learning occurs, in fact—addresses the agenda set by the U.S. Department of Education in its 2010 National Education Technology Plan. They've asked for it—we're actually doing it here at Wheeling Jesuit. That research can't take place without players signing up to take part in Selene, and we truly appreciate the efforts of people like Julie."

Selene has twice earned the Association for Educational Communications and Technology Design and Development Best Practice Award, in 2008 and again in 2011. In 2010 Selene was one of 15 finalists worldwide in the Disney Research Challenge, a competition that seeks to show that sophisticated concepts can be conveyed via entertaining interactions on computers.