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Spring 2012 Vol. 12 Number 1

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Interactive Video Game Puts Science in Students’ Hands

Learning by doing is an essential part of a strong science education, but turning abstract scientific concepts into hands-on, engaging lessons for students can be a real challenge. Enter Science in Motion, a new video game under development that may soon allow science students across the country to see for themselves how earthquakes are caused and mountains are formed. Through the National Academy of Sciences’ Science & Entertainment Exchange, a $250,000 grant has been awarded to the GameDesk Institute to develop the game.

“This is an ambitious project in terms of both content and collaboration,” said GameDesk CEO Lucien Vattel. “The Science & Entertainment Exchange award will help us prove that you can create a highly entertaining and academically respected experience that will be embraced as core instruction.”

Billed as a “textbook of the future,” Science in Motion merges high-quality characterization, storytelling, and game design from LucasArts Entertainment with assessment-driven game-learning methodology from GameDesk. A module of the educational geoscience game, for example, will allow students to control the passage of time and slice through layers of the Earth to explore how shifting lithospheric plates cause earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.

Since 2008, the Science & Entertainment Exchange has connected top scientists with screenwriters, directors, and producers to craft engaging storylines rooted in sound science and to portray science more accurately in film and television. The idea for Science in Motion was sparked by a summit held by the Exchange that brought together leading scientists and engineers, creative talent from the movie, television, and gaming industry, and dozens of teachers and students to discuss new ways to use entertainment as a science learning tool.

The Science in Motion project was selected because of its creative approach to science education and its potential appeal to students as a learning tool. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation sponsored the summit and also provided funding for the new grant, intended to support projects that leverage entertainment media to improve science learning.   -- Molly Galvin

Visit <> to learn more about the Science & Entertainment Exchange and its work.

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Copyright 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences