Chang Liu, of the Vital Lab, Ohio University, gave a really interesting presentation on the “STEAM Project”, which stands for Science and Technology Enrichment for Appalachion Middle-schoolers. The project was an effort to create various learning games to help teach science to middle-school children.
The technologies they used included Second Life, Flash and a custom-built game engine. Chang demoed two of their Second Life games, a fruitfly genetics game and a “mystery” game that taught kids about scientific inference and observation. I liked how they built a web-based interface for the teacher to use to change questions in the SL questionnaire on the fly, as well as monitor the kid’s answers via a web-based database.
Chang noted that they have made their games available open to any kid on the Teen Grid to play on their island, and that they plan on looking into an OpenSim solution to distribute the games more widely. His colleage Andy told me that the LSL scripts they used to create the HUD and the games is visible and usable by other educators as well, which is a great way to scale out their work.
Looks like a really neat project that might have interesting lessons that we can compare to Global Kids “Science in Second Life” project that we did last year.