For 14 years, Wisconsin-based educational game developer, Filament Games has been creating experiences with positive impacts. In 2018, Filament launched new releases to iCivics, a free series of civic education learning games founded by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; and most recently, the new free game, Breaking Boundaries in Science, a virtual reality adventure honoring influential women in science.
Brandon Pittser, director of marketing and outreach for Filament Games, believes that Breaking Boundaries in Science “reframes the idea of scientific achievement as something only a few people can do.”
The game was created to elevate the stories and scientific influence of Jane Goodall, Marie Curie, and Grace Hopper. Their worlds were created in a virtual reality game format based on primary sources. Students can hear from Curie while exploring her laboratory, Hopper in her basement office, and Goodall via her actual voice, in her base camp in Tanzania.
Through a partnership with the technology company, Oculus, Filament Games built authentic historical contexts where students can interactively learn about the scientists’ personal stories, work environments, and authentic artifacts. It is available for free through the Oculus store and can be played with virtual reality gear from Oculus Go and Samsung Gear VR.
Virtual reality allows students to immerse themselves in the scientists’ identities, taking on the reality of the game with less abstraction compared to other learning modes. Pittser feels the biggest benefit of game-based learning is that it provides a safe space for failure. “Games allow experimentation,” he said. “Some students experience anxiety in a test. Games can reframe a student’s self-regard.”
He also celebrates Breaking Boundaries in Science as a new way to think about how scientists are represented. “We elevate under celebrated figures not just as scientists and iconic figures, but just as human beings too,” he said. “Each of the vignettes is filled with biographical detail and artifacts from their lives that round them out as human beings. We want young people to see them as normal people.”
Free curriculum materials to use with Breaking Boundaries in Science were recently released. Topics of the materials span non-linear storytelling to original investigations based on scientific experiments.
Filament not only creates their own quality content but partners with other education organizations to create meaningful learning experiences for students of all ages. For more information, including how to access their educational games, visit http://www.filamentgames.com/.