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Center for Educational Technologies projects have ended (except Challenger Learning Center) and are no longer funded.

Videogame Research Heading to Congressional Showcase

Fri Oct 30 2009

Videogame research taking place at the Center for Educational Technologies® will be featured in a display for the U.S. Congress.

The CyGaMEs project is one of several National Science Foundation-funded projects that will be presented Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Senate Hart Office Building in Washington, DC. The purpose of the event is to educate members of Congress, their staff, and other interested people about the use of technology at all levels of education, from teacher development to K-12 learning.

CyGaMEs stands for Cyberlearning through Game-based, Metaphor Enhanced Learning Objects. The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the project in September 2008 for two years at almost $1.2 million and then another $800,000-plus for two more years contingent on available funding. CyGaMEs features an approach to instructional videogame design in which players use metaphors—concepts they already understand—in order to play a game and learn new, more difficult concepts. The project also embeds assessment tools for researchers into the game itself.

The research began with funding from NASA in 2006 and resulted in the creation of the Selene videogame. In Selene players learn difficult geological concepts like accretion, differentiation, impact cratering, and volcanism by applying these science concepts to help players move toward the game's goal of building the Earth's moon. Players construct the moon, then pepper it with impact craters and flood it with lava to experience how our moon formed and changed over time. All through the game Selene tracks each player's behavior to measure learning and the player's response to the game environment.

The NSF grant includes funding for updates and improvements to the game. Second Avenue Software of Pittsford, NY, is handling that part of the project.

Presenting the game to Congress will be Debbie Denise Reese, Ph.D., senior educational researcher at the Center for Educational Technologies and leader of the CyGaMEs project, and Victoria Van Voorhis, chief executive officer of Second Avenue Software. They will also display the project Tuesday afternoon at NSF headquarters in Alexandria, VA.

Players ages 9-18 and adult recruiters who confirm players' ages, get parental consent, and gather other players are always needed to help with the CyGaMEs research. To sign up as a recruiter or play Selene, visit the Selene website or contact Lisa McFarland at 304-243-2479 or