Educational video games have been around for many years.
But now, researchers at Arizona State University are incorporating body movement to reinforce learning.
"What we have found is that when students are active or moving while learning, they retain the information longer," said Mina Johnson-Glenberg Ph.D., associate research professor and director of the Embodied Games for Learning Lab at ASU. "Along with learning things via symbols or numbers, you're also learning with the sensory motor input that you're getting from moving the body."
Johnson-Glenberg and fellow researchers have developed several interactive video games focusing on nutrition and science – an area in which she feels America is losing ground.
"If I can get them when they're young - fourth grade through eighth grade - and keep them interested in science topics, then hopefully they'll carry that on as adults," Johnson-Glenberg explained.
Kids play the games in pairs using Microsoft Xbox Kinect, which senses body movement and displays their actions on a screen.
The Alien Health Game teaches healthy food choices and exercise habits – as kids use their arms to feed an alien and do jumping jacks or squats to metabolize the meal.
If they feed the alien junk, it loses energy and slumps over.
Tour de Force focuses on simple machines – specifically gears and how they work.
Kids move their arms in a circular motion, in low or high gear, to move bicycles up a hill.
Red Rover Come Over is a Mars-like rover that teaches about levers.
As the kids move their own arms, the rover moves its arms to crush rocks.
"It's not just about making it engaging and fun," said Johnson-Glenberg. "But what we found on delayed recall tests is that they actually remember the information better than the students who weren't moving around during the learning."
Johnson-Glenberg plans to have these video games downloadable and ready for the classroom by summer.
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