Pop quiz, hotshot. What do geometry, aliens and the augmented reality gaming platform all have in common?
A: All were spotted last Friday at Edmunds Middle School in Burlington.
As part of a unit on exploring place, educators Laura Botte and Katie Wyndorf are having their students work with the free iOS app ARIS, an open-source game-creation platform. To kick things off, they collaborated with Angelique Fairbrother, technology coordinator for Franklin West SU, in bringing an introductory ARIS game into Edmunds’ classrooms. And out into the hallways. Also sometimes under the desks and on top of the lockers.
The two classes of 6th graders played “Shape Invaders”, a game where aliens ask for help with geometry. Students had to locate and scan QR codes scattered around the school, using them to collect various shapes. In order to keep the aliens happy, students then calculated the perimeter and area of each shape.
Students worked in teams to solve the clues necessary to come up with the area and perimeter of each shape — skills not usually encountered in 6th grade math. With a little help and a whole lot of persistence, the aliens were appeased and the students got an introduction to the ARIS platform.
Next week, the Edmunds students will be heading to the Echo Lake Aquarium and Science Center to build their own ARIS games around the themes of culture, ecology, history and sustainability.
ARIS stands for Augmented Reality Interactive Storytelling, and is designed to be an easy entrypoint for students to design games incorporating video, audio and character-driven activities that tell stories by moving players through a landscape or incorporating place-based activities. Last year, the Tarrant Institute created an ARIS game for Vermont students to collect book trailers for the DCF 2013 books.
We can’t wait to see what games the Edmunds students build with Echo’s resources! Stay tuned for further updates.
(ps. A huge thank you to UVM’s College of Education and Social Services for lending Edmunds additional iPads for game play.)