6th grade students’ play test educational games

Prairie’s 6th grade students are beta testing video games in their classroom that can be used to educate students around the world. Last week, one of those games was released to the public: the point-and-click adventure game The Legend of the Last Emerald.

Middle School (MS) Science Teacher Joy Aragones’ was a project consultant on the game and had two of her classes playtest it twice last year. “So, it’s been really, really fun. The kids really like seeing it. They like of course that it’s a game. They love that they get to see it before anyone else.”

In the game, students step into the shoes of Jules, a maritime archeologist, and gather clues to discover hidden treasure in shipwrecks that are inspired by Great Lakes history. Students take pictures, talk to experts, read documents and examine artifacts. They connect the primary source clues on their evidence board to identify the ship and its story. Students share their discoveries and why it matters.

“It is getting kids to collect information and problem-solve, because the point of the game is to figure out where the lost treasure is from her (Jules’) grandfather’s ship. So as the kids go along they collect information from different places. It talks about coordinates, and it talks about a little history of Wisconsin, so you can use it in a lot of different places in your curriculum. It doesn’t have to be science; it doesn’t have to be social studies. It can kind of be a mix of things,” Aragones said.

This was her Aragones’ first experience creating an educational game. Prior to this, she spent a couple of years in fellowships discussing game ideas and teaming up with game designers, content producers, and marine archeologists.

Currently, students in her 6th grade science classes are beta testing a maritime experiment game that’s being developed.  

The Legend of the Lost Emerald was designed by Field Day Lab, PBS Wisconsin Education, Wisconsin Sea Grant, and Wisconsin educators. Aragones was one of 15 Field Day Educator Fellows on the project.

Field Day is a research lab and design studio based at the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research at UW-Madison. The lab partners with education to make games that bring contemporary research to the public.

Listen to hear how these fellowship experiences have strengthened Aragones’ teaching by enabling her to collaborate with other educators and strengthening how she teaches students game design.