STEM is an essential aspect of a child’s education. Lessons on these subjects help prepare students for future careers and success in their everyday life. With STEM careers growing faster than any other workforce, it is becoming increasingly important for parents and educators to help children improve their STEM literacy and find a passion for these subjects. An effective way for educators to bring STEM into the classroom is through hands-on activities. This article outlines how to gamify the classroom to increase student engagement and retention of complex STEM concepts.
Why Gamification Works in STEM Education
Gamification combines typical game activities and classroom curriculum/lesson plans to increase student engagement. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published an article about the benefits of using games to facilitate classroom curriculum. In the article, the author highlights the crossover between games and learning. This benefits educators because it gets students active in lessons by using facilitators they are already comfortable with – such as video games or sports.
Gamification is especially beneficial when teaching STEM subjects to students. A STEM curriculum can be daunting for students, especially early in education. The perceived difficulty of these subjects can often stop students from enjoying STEM lessons or wanting to continue taking STEM courses throughout their education. Gamifying STEM is a great way to help improve STEM literacy and create a positive relationship between students and STEM.
Gamifying the STEM curriculum is not only beneficial to student comprehension but has also been proven to increase retention of the material. This increased understanding helps students perform better on standardized tests and apply what they have learned to the world around them. As parents and educators, the goal of teaching students is for them to understand the curriculum for application to the real world. Gamification is a helpful way to ensure students utilize what they are learning, stay engaged in lessons, and strengthen their 21st century skills.
Strategies for Gamifying Your STEM Classroom
There are a variety of different ways to gamify your classroom and get students engaged in STEM learning. Below is a list of options to strategically incorporate gamification into your classroom curricula:
- Design game-based learning activities that connect to STEM lessons.
- Incorporate digital games and applications into the classroom curriculum. There are a variety of different online resources meant to introduce students to STEM concepts.
- Create friendly competitions or challenges that get students engaged in what they are learning.
- Using game-based rewards and recognition. This is an especially effective technique at the elementary and middle school levels. Rewards combined with other game play can incentivize students to work hard, stay engaged, and put in extra effort outside of the classroom to improve their skills.
- Integrating role-playing and simulations into learning. This approach gets students involved in the lesson and allows them to take a creative approach to learning.
- Create levels and progressions. This gives students something to gauge their progress and have a healthy competition with themselves.
- Introduce virtual currency into the classroom. This is a unique way to allow students to see improvements in their STEM literacy over time.
Top Tools and Resources for Gamifying STEM Lessons
Below is a list of some of the many great resources that educators can use when gamifying the classroom:
- Using sports to facilitate STEM learning: In STEM Football, students predict the outcome of a two-point conversion and an extra point by determining the larger fraction. Students then write the chances of an extra point over a two-point conversion in a mathematical expression using a greater than less than symbol. This game application of math teaches students how to connect what they are learning to their everyday life and real world situations. To learn more about different ways to gamify the classroom through sports, visit the STEM Sports® website.
- Using website games to teach new STEM skills: Coding Game by CoderPad is a website that uses a variety of games to teach students entry level code skills. This is one of many ways websites and apps can be useful to teachers looking to gamify their classrooms.
- Utilize websites and applications to facilitate in-classroom trivia and competitions: Kahoot utilizes competitive quiz games to help students master new subjects.
- Create a prize box: Whether it is virtual or in-person, creating a prize box is a great way to turn classroom learning into a game students love to play! The rewards can range anywhere from small prizes to classroom pizza parties. The ranging toys give students something to strive and look forward to as they continue working through STEM lessons.
Gamify Your Classroom with STEM Curriculum from STEM Sports®
Gamifying your classroom is a great way to get students engaged in STEM lessons. At STEM Sports®, we use sports to facilitate hands-on lessons perfect for classrooms, after school programs, summer camps, and homeschooling students. By using sports as a way to gamify STEM lessons, we are improving student retention, comprehension, and the overall sentiment about the subjects. To learn more about STEM Sports® current offerings you can implement with your students, click here.