Skip to main content

12 Games Focused on STEM Learning for PreK-12 Win Awards in Annual Serious Play Competition

Image credit: The UW-Madison Field Day Lab’s most recent engineering-inspired game is Lakeland, which is based on research conducted by Victor Zavala, the Baldovin-DaPra Associate Professor in chemical and biological engineering.

ORLANDO - July 7, 2020 - Twelve games designed to build skills in STEM in K-12 and Preschool students have been cited for excellence in the 2020 International Serious Play Awards Program. These games are designed to give educators a way to better engage their students in class, at the same time, inspire future scientists, engineers and mathematicians.

In the K-12 STEM category, Gold Medal Awards went to the following:

Lakeland, a town building game where players develop a lakeside community to learn about the nutrient cycle and humanity’s complicated relationship with farming, soil nutrition, and pollution. Targeted to middle and high school-aged students, this game gives students a challenge of balancing community and business needs with sustainability and town morale. Lakeland was developed by Field Day Lab in conjunction with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, UW Madison; Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction; and United States Department of Agriculture Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water (USDA INFEWS).

Curse Reverse, a strategy platforming game where players must find and return stolen ancient treasures to their original sites in as few moves as possible. Designed for math students grades 5+, the game has students using math to change heights of towers and lengths of bridges to traverse obstacles and return the treasures to their rightful places. Curse Reverse was developed by Learning Games Lab, New Mexico State University with support from the National Science Foundation.

Invite Only VR: A Vaping Prevention Game, a VR video game intervention developed to prevent use of JUULs/e-cigarettes by teens ages 12 to 16. Players take control of Mike, a teen who receives powers from a stranger that allow him to redo a single day repeatedly to get into an invite-only party and help prevent his friends from becoming addicted to vaping. Invite Only VR was developed by PreviewLabs and sponsored by Oculus Education for the play4REAL XR Lab at the Yale Center for Health and Learning Games.
Silver Medal Awards went to the following:

Pirates of Cartesian, a game that aims to teach functions to 8th grade students by helping a young pirate and her pet chicken overcome their challenges to find a lost treasure. The game focuses on teaching how to analyze and solve linear equations and pairs of simultaneous linear equations. Pirates of Cartesian was developed by ThinkBox.

It’s Alive! ... or is it?, a science-focused game made to teach 6th grade students how to identify things that are living, non-living, or something else. The game is designed to allow for individual exploration, so students may not follow the same path. The game is paired with an accompanying assessment to measure learning outcomes. It’s Alive ... or is it? was developed by StrongMind.

Shady Sam, an 8-bit game where players take control of a sleazy loan shark whose boss, Shady Sam, pressures his employees into maximizing profits from all potential customers. It aims to give students an understanding of how loans can become dangerously expensive from an alternate viewpoint. Shady Sam was developed by McKinney for Next Gen Personal Finance.

The Pack, an open-world game created by NYSCI and Design I/O where players control an avatar to entice creatures in surrounding ecosystems to join its pack. Creatures must be fed certain combinations of food, allowing the creatures to be used to develop functions. The purpose of the game is to teach computational thinking and foundational skills for coding. The Pack was developed by the New York Hall of Science in conjunction with Design I/O and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network with support from the JPB Foundation and support from the National Science Foundation.

Math High School, a game where players help a frustrated coach and a team of players define and meet their athletic goals by using functions to understand performance data. Teaching 8th grade students about functions, the game gives them experience in constructing, reading and interpreting basic graphs. Math High School was developed by ThinkBox.
The Bronze Medal Award was given to Cloud Machine, a series of visual puzzles to help 3rd through 8th grade students build a conceptual understanding of fractions and develop their visual problem-solving skills by filling clouds with exact amounts of liquid. Once a cloud is filled precisely, it will rain down onto the world below to help nourish plants and animals. Cloud Machine was developed by Curriculum Associates.

In the Preschool STEM category, the Gold Medal Award was given to Kids STEM Lab, a multi-touch education game that allows kids to freely create structures that guide the flow of water or balls to generate different effects. Targeted to children ages 3-8, the game consists of 9 multiplayer STEM game themes and designed based on unstructured learning theory. Kids STEM Lab was developed by Sindrax Technology.

Serious Play Conference is the only event that offers full tracks of sessions in every discipline of Serious Games and Simulations, including Government/Military, Corporate/Non-Profit, Healthcare, Higher Education, and K-12, as well as Game Development and Instructional Design. In addition to the Serious Play Conference and Serious Play Awards competition, the Serious Play has an email newsletter and news site, Serious Play Wire.

For information on the International Serious Play Awards, go here: