Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lure of the Labyrinth: Serious Games For Middle School Pre-Algebra


Serious Games reaching today's tech-savvy students in a contemporary way


Via: FableVision and Interactive Media Technology

PRESS RELEASE

FableVision Teams to Debut "Lure of the Labyrinth" Online Math & Literacy Game

A Collaboration with MPT & MIT Education Arcade Designed to Test the Efficacy of Gaming & Learning

(Boston, MA) February 18, 2009 – At last, the “pencil and paper” driven math class gets a brand new boost with the highly anticipated launch of Lure of the Labyrinth, an online pre-algebra middle-school math game developed to reach today's tech-savvy students in a contemporary way. FableVision, the award-winning educational media developer, in collaboration with Maryland Public Television (MPT) and the MIT Education Arcade, has applied the latest research in game theory, cutting-edge design, and a story-driven approach to produce a powerful learning tool to help all students learn regardless of their math ability.

 
In the world of Lure of the Labyrinth, students progress through three sections, or "wings." Each is related to a different math strand that is part of a typical pre-algebra curriculum: •Proportions (including fractions and ratios) •Variables and Equations •Number and Operations (including geometry, order of operations and modular arithmetic).
Each of the three wings includes three puzzles, and each of the puzzles has three levels. The levels progress from easy to hard. And, continuing with the "rule of three," students have to successfully solve each puzzle three times before they can eliminate a room.

 
FableVision created the engaging online game environment, marrying an immersive interface and compelling storyline with standards-based curriculum. An underground monster-inhabited world comes to life as students plunge into a shadowy factory on a mission to rescue their missing pet. Taking on a monster persona (avatar), students disguise themselves as “insiders” to maneuver through math problems.
 
Says Gary Goldberger, Executive Vice President of FableVision and executive producer of Labyrinth, "It's not a news flash that textbooks and lectures make some kids' eyes glaze over. While online gaming can’t reach all of the students we're losing in the areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), for some kids this approach may open a new doorway into a subject they may have avoided until now."
 
Lure of the Labyrinth can be accessed free of charge.Visit http://labyrinth.thinkport.org/, MPT’s K-12 education website.
 
“The aim of Labyrinth is to reach and teach students who may not otherwise feel successful in learning math,” says Gail Porter Long, MPT Senior VP & Chief Education Officer. “Quality educational games provide a flexible format to nurture valuable critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, setting the stage for future learning.”


Utilizing the immersive characteristics of digital games, Labyrinth blends a compelling storyline with multi-level puzzle play to build pre-algebra skills in several core areas: proportions, fractions and ratios; variables and equations; and number and operations. “FableVision is dedicated to radical reform in education," declares Paul Reynolds, FableVision's President and Co-Founder. “This requires unprecedented creativity and innovation to reinvent how we reach kids and to excite them about learning, especially in areas like STEM — where we are facing a critical shortage of future professionals.”

Labyrinth can be played individually or in teams, and was designed to give all students a chance to learn and succeed. An online communication device allows players to exchange ideas and game strategies, and encourages collaborative game play.

MIT Education Arcade Creative Director Scot Osterweil led the design team, which incorporated fundamental elements of a good learning game. “Effective games allow students to succeed through trial and error. They learn to use the feedback from short-term setbacks to achieve success” explains Osterweil. “In the process they construct a deeper understanding of the math concepts.”

A team of Maryland middle school teachers worked alongside the development team to advise and to test the game at each stage of development. The game's website provides comprehensive educator materials to support teachers (especially non-gamers) before, during, and after game play. The materials provide a detailed “how to” for every aspect of the game, along with suggested small- or large-scale classroom implementation.

About FableVision

FableVision, an educational media developer and publisher, is on a mission to bring the world to a better place through positive media, storytelling and technology. Located at the Boston Children's Museum, the FableVision team enjoys an international reputation for its unique brand of innovative, technology-delivered storytelling and learning.

FableVision creates websites, digital games, animation, and books with key players on the education landscape, including PBS, Maryland Public Television, MIT Education Arcade, Sesame Workshop, Scholastic, KCET, Carnegie Hall, National Academy of Sciences, WGBH, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Pearson, Girl Scouts of the USA, SARRC, the Research Institute for Learning and Development, Boston University, and The Jim Henson Company.

Among its K-12 software products are Animation-ish&trade, Stationery Studio® and Get A Clue®, designed to promote creativity, writing, reading, and essential 21st century skills. Developed for learners of all types, BrainCogs®, Essay Express&trade, and SmartMoves&trade have been recognized as being particularly effective for challenged learners. FableVision's K-12 software product offerings are distributed worldwide.

For more information about Lure of the Labyrinth and project partners go to:

Lure of the Labyrinth http://labyrinth.thinkport.org/
MIT Education Arcade http://www.educationarcade.org/
Funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education Star Schools Program http://www.ed.gov/programs/starschools/index.html