Video games take bigger role in education

Thu Dec 10, 2009 8:12am EST
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By John Gaudiosi

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - Teachers trying to get students interested in molecular biology or space now have a new tool -- video games.

As more children grow up playing video games, educators are partnering with game developers and scientists to create new interactive experiences for the classroom.

A trio of new games were developed to make subjects like world culture, molecular biology and space exploration more accessible and fun for young minds.

According to a new "Kids and Gaming 2009" report from The NPD Group, among all children in the United States aged 2-17, 82 percent, or 55.7 million, are currently gamers.

Of these gamers, 9.7 million are aged 2-5, representing the smallest segment, while 12.4 million are aged 9-11, making up the largest segment.

Just as kids have embraced music videogames like Activision's "Guitar Hero 5" and MTV Games' "The Beatles: Rock Band" and sports games like Electronic Arts' "Madden NFL 10" and "FIFA 10," educators and researchers are hoping games like "Immune Attack," "Discover Babylon," and Virtual Heroes' "Astronaut: Moon, Mars & Beyond" will engage and educate youngsters.

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) game developer Escape Hatch Entertainment created "Immune Attack" to plunge 7th through 12th graders into the microscopic world of immune system proteins and cells.

The goal of the game is to save a patient suffering from a bacterial infection. Along the way, players gain an understanding of cellular biology and molecular science.   Continued...