A new smartphone game created by Ball State University students aims to turn the science and engineering problems of International Space Station astronauts into a learning experience. The Android-based Collaboration Station game was developed using input from The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, state science standards and NASA learning objectives. Computer Science Professor Paul Gestwicki says the video game, which will be released next month, can serve as a resource for teaching about STEM careers, the solar system and gravity.

He says students of many backgrounds contributed to the effort. The group's immersive learning experience involved English, computer science, animation and music media production majors and produced a “polished” game in 15 weeks.

Source: Inside INdiana Business

April 22, 2015

News Release

MUNCIE, Ind. – Children will soon be able to solve science and engineering issues facing astronauts on the International Space Station thanks to a new game created by Ball State University students.

Led by Paul Gestwicki, a computer science professor, an immersive learning class created Collaboration Station, a multiplayer video game. Designed for ages 10 and up, the Android-based game was developed in cooperation with The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. The game will be released in May on the Google Play Store.

“The students created an educational video game to teach about living and working on the station,” Gestwicki said. “One player is the commander, who is responsible for assigning tasks to the crew. Each team member plays a mini-game to generate science or maintenance points, which are required to complete the three scenarios that comprise an expedition.”

By focusing the core of the game content on NASA learning objectives and Indiana fourth and fifth grade science standards, the game will be an excellent resource for organizations wishing to supplement their offerings on the solar system, gravity, and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Gestwicki said.

“One of the most important lessons of the game is that working on the International Space Station requires teamwork. We show the player that STEM careers require people to work together,” Gestwicki said. “We were inspired by cooperative games such as Pandemic and Spaceteam, which use game mechanics to encourage and reward collaborative play.”

The video game features original artwork and designs, as well as background music and sound effects created by the students. The themes and images in the game are inspired by actual living conditions and scientific experiments performed on the International Space Station.

“Creating a video game in one semester is a tremendous undertaking,” Gestwicki said. “The fact that the game is an original design, has focused on education and will be publicly released is quite an accomplishment. Even though we don't have a game design and development curriculum, these students went from zero to polished game in about 15 weeks.”

The multidisciplinary team of students studying English, computer science, animation and music media production formalized the project by forming Space Monkey Studio, which operates as an independent game development company within the university.

“We follow industrial best practices of game development, such as continuous integration and agile software development methods,” Gestwicki said. “At the same time, we maintain an academic focus. This is the academic studio model. It combines project-based learning with traditional academic values.”

Source: Ball State University

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