Our collaborators at Old Sturbridge Village, New England's largest outdoor living history museum, have created a TaleBlazer game entited "Dollars & Sense". In this role-playing AR game, players are challenged to make several financial decisions faced by typical rural New England farm families in the 1820s and 30s. Each decision, whether it involves buying or selling livestock, making speculative investments, or permitting family member to work outside the home, affects the family's prosperity.
The game culminates with the player's financial reckoning: Will you end up in a wealthy home or in debtors' prison? The game is currently in development, with the goal of being made available to school groups and the general public.
During our three-year research project, Informal Community Science Investigators (iCSI) (NSF# 1223407), we are exploring ways in which augmented reality (AR) games can engage and enhance visitors' STEM-related learning experiences with zoos and nature centers.
Location-based AR games available to the general public (and geared toward 'tweens and their families) will be developed and piloted with our grant partners, including two zoos (Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, San Diego Zoo) and two nature centers (Missouri Botanical Garden, Red Butte). Engagement of youth also include the piloting of intensive summer camp experiences in which youth develop knowledge of scientific domains and develop AR games showcasing their knowledge and sharing it with others.
Our research around developing understanding of efficacy and best practice will focus on both supporting youth as well as professional organizations' creation of AR games. This work builds on prior related NSF support including Local Investigations of Natural Science (LIONS) (NSF# 0639638) and Community Science Investigators (CSI) (NSF# 0833663).