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ASU developing video games to teach science, nutrition

TEMPE, Ariz. — Kids love to play video games. They can get some exercise while they play their X-Box now, but soon they could also be learning physics and good nutrition while they play.

In Arizona State University’s Embodied Games for Physics Learning Lab, researchers are developing video games in which kids can learn science and other things while playing videos.

One game is called Gears and Levers. It traces the kids’ arm movements as they move them.

“We can track moving their arm as they jack up a virtual car on the screen,” said Associate Professor Mina Johnson-Glenberg. “We’re teaching kids very sophisticated concepts using fun games and their body movements.”

Johnson-Glenberg says exercising the body does the brain some good. “Our research has shown that when kids use their bodies to learn, they actually retain the information better.”

Another game being developed is one designed to teach kids healthy eating by feeding an alien that’s on the screen. If he eats too much fattening food, the alien becomes fatigued.

Johnson-Glenberg said that the nutrition game is for middle school aged children, while other games teach science and physics to high school through college-aged kids.

Her goal is to keep kids interested in science.

“Somewhere around middle school, they stop being excited about science,” said Johnson-Glenberg. “If there’s a way to make it fun for them and keep them engaged, and let them feel like a scientist and take on the identity of a scientist, that’s what I want to do. I want to keep those kids in the pipeline so that they become adult scientists.”

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