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$2m Project to ­se Video Game to Engage Rural Maine Students in Computer Science, Math

By The Maine Edge

October 1, 2015

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University of Maine (UMaine) researchers will use the popular open-world videogame Minecraft to introduce the basics of programming to rural fifth-to-eighth graders in the state.

The researchers are collaborating with several middle schools and the computer science education organization ThoughtSTEM on the project. UMaine professor Bruce Segee is leading the effort to develop a curriculum for the project. The students will use ThoughtSTEM's browser-based software add-on LearnToMod to create tricks and tools for use within Minecraft.

"The use of computer games as a mechanism for teaching computer science concepts while also improving the effectiveness of the core curriculum is incredibly exciting," Segee says. "We believe that we will see an improvement in student learning across multiple areas."

The project is part of the U.S. National Science Foundation's (NSF) Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers program, which aims to better understand and promote practices to increase the likelihood that students will gain important skills and ultimately pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The researchers received a $2-million NSF grant to fund the project, which will examine how using the game both in school and in after-school settings influences students' knowledge of math and programming, and their standardized test scores.

From The Maine Edge
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