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Marjee Chmiel: A Step Change In Science Serious Games

Fostering Scientific Habits Of Mind In The Context Of Gameplay

Marjee Chmiel In Her Own Words

“I have 10 years of experience in science education and curriculum writing. My primary area of focus is in the production, design, and classroom implementation of educational video games and digital labs. Additionally, I have a background in educational research, particularly in the areas of technology-augmented cognition and scientific literacy.”

“I am currently the Director of Digital Media at The JASON Project at National Geographic Society where I design and produce a variety of science video games and other interactive online applications that engage students with diverse learning styles with standards-aligned content.”

“Prior to this work, I was the Associate Director of Instructional Design at Public Broadcasting Services where I designed and managed professional development initiatives in technology integration and early-childhood literacy.”

“I also worked as a research assistant in science education and educational technology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and have taught science education methods at the graduate and undergraduate level at Marquette University.”

“I began my career as a high school chemistry and physics teacher and am currently completing my PhD in Education.”

“All of my games are designed with a deep understanding of student cognition balanced with the realities of a classroom. My work has been recognized as a finalist for best educational game in 2009 with the Association for Educational Publishers.”

“I love science, I’m a very visual learner, and I love games. I genuinely believe games can engage kids that might otherwise lack the confidence or motivation to engage with science.”

I Pride Myself On Being Part Of A Team

“The images on Science Games By Marjee Blog’s Banner are projects I have produced over the years (starting in 2003). Like all great games, these were created with a team.”

Resilient Planet Mission 2: Flower Garden Banks

Coaster Creator

“Behind each of these beautiful images, there are graphic designers, programmers, art directors, supervisors, and stake holders. Educational games need game designers, curriculum writers, project managers, producers, artists, programmers, user testing, teacher and student feedback.”

The Right Online Games Can Work In Classrooms

By Marjee Chmiel
Posted: Monday, Feb. 01, 2010

When Jim Gee first published "What Video Games Can Teach Us About Learning and Literacy," he painted a portrait of a gamer engaged in an immersive world where the gamer is lost, for hours, in meaningful play as a soldier in World War II or a Greek god.

What Gee was talking about is that schools should rethink their design to be more akin to games. What if curricular design had as much depth as the design of major commercial video games? For the most part, this topic was never explored. Instead, attention just concentrated on funding the development of educational games. In our excitement, some critical ideas were confused.

Here is the problem: Gee argues that games, unlike schools, offer deep, meaningful, and somewhat inefficient learning experiences. This is in contrast to schools, where we... aim for efficiency.

So realistically, what does that mean about the games we design for schools? If schools won't dedicate 40 hours a week to history or science, why design games that demand just that? This is where the original funding for games in education started to head: trying to recapture the magic of best-selling commercial platform games. But schools went about business as usual...

Part of the reason for the success of my games, I believe, has to do with the fact that I design my games to be more like other technologies that have been easily absorbed in the classroom as opposed to a commercial opus. Researcher Katherine Culp identified these features as being key for classroom games:

The technology needs to address conceptual "sticking points" for students that teachers are familiar with.

The technology needs to be flexible.

The technology needs to be able to be used simply at first, and allow teachers to grow the sophistication of use over time.

Games in education are vital because of their ability to engage all students. But we have to work within the realities of schools.