PIQUA — Students of gifted intervention specialist Becky Renegar are learning about math through game-playing, which Renegar says is effective for her students.
Renegar represented Piqua City Schools during the STEMconnector Town Hall, an interactive, online video conference that discussed the opportunities of STEM game-based learning, partnering with MIND Research Institute.
The conference was based out of Washington, D.C., and led by Tim Edwards, chief program officer at STEMconnector. STEMconnector is designed to track STEM education activity of organizations in all states.
Educators, students, programmers, and corporate representatives tuned in on the discussion. Renegar explained how game-based learning has benefitted her students.
“The amount of engagement with my students is drastically changing,” Renegar said during the conference. “When they are able to interact through play, rather then completing, say, a worksheet, online games are great for them … the interaction is constantly engaging them.”
Renegar’s students are involved in online games that allow them to learn a skill beyond their grade level. “(Online games) gives (students) the challenges that they are ready to take on, so they are not waiting to learn.”
Her students also participate in MIND Research Institute’s K-12 Game-a-thon, which invites students from across the country to design and build their own math games that create solutions to mathematical problems and upload their video online to be judged.
Top projects get to be shown in person at the research institute’s math fair in Chicago. Renegar’s students have been involved in the tournament for two years, with three teams placing in the top five last year.
“I find the creativity involved in game design and making the video for the game-a-thon has definitely motivated my students,” she said. “Many times, (students) are motivated to learn new math as the need arises.”
A group of her students designed a skeeball machine for the game-a-thon one year and to do so, students needed to determine the slope of the ramp and had to learn the Pythagorean Theorem — they were only in third grade.
Renegar told Edwards that the school district has been “very supportive” of game-based learning and encourages it.
“At Piqua, our school motto is ‘opportunity matters’ and that really is true,” she said. “(It’s about) selling the opportunity to those in your district and to other teachers to support kids’ needs and say ‘hey, here’s an opportunity that can really help kids.’”
“We know game-based learning is revolutionizing learning — in school and out of school — and clearly taking over some of the means of keeping kids engaged, so it is exciting,” Edie Fraser, chief executive officer at STEMconnector said. “ … (STEM game-based learning) will change our way of engaging in full, exciting careers.”
The conference can be found online at www.stemconnector.org/townhall/leveraging-game-based-learning-increase-stem-engagement.
Reach Amy Barger at (937) 451-3340.