Tahiri Fuentes Dávila - University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus
Co-Author(s): Gil Reyes, Bryan Mitchell, Héctor Jiménez, Diva Mockford, and Yamil González, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, Mayagüez, PR
Due to socio-economic factors some of the middle school students in Puerto Rico lack exposure to the different STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields and, as a consequence, the necessary motivation or incentive to pursue a college degree in STEM areas. In the past years, the UPRM CREST Nanotechnology Center has been working toward increasing students’ interest in STEM fields by using concepts from the field of nanotechnology and infusing them with interactive media.
There has been a steady growth in the use of video games as a learning tool due to new inexpensive developer tools such as Unity, a game engine that facilitates the process of 2D and 3D video game development. Many studies have demonstrated that gaming, in addition to its entertainment aspect, is an excellent medium to address specific social problems. Research has proven that video games increase engagement in students. We have been developing a video game designed to teach users about new discoveries in the nanotechnology field that serves as a motivational tool to study STEM related fields. The game’s storyline consists of an engineer that is doing various experiments, all related to nanotechnology, and creates a machine that turns him or her into nanoscale. Each experiment occurs in a different level in the game, which helps demonstrate each nanotechnology concept in greater depth. The team will visit different schools to make the students part of the game design and improve it by using feedback collected through surveys regarding the various levels. Unity will be used as game engine and the software has been designed following a pipeline architecture. Feedback from an expert in the area of narratology has been incorporated into the game design. Two levels have been nearly completed and two additional ones are planned. One of the latter is moving into the implementation phase, while the other is in the design phase.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): NSF Grant No. 1345156. NSF Grant CNS-1042341
Faculty Advisor: Nayda Santiago,