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The Field Day Lab is a team of researchers and game developers in the School of Education’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Instead of teaching kids how to kick a home run or sneak past enemy lines to capture the opposition’s bounty, these field day games aim to teach kids math, science, history, and more — with virtually no chance of getting smacked in the head with a dodgeball. Teachers, researchers, artists, and software engineers work together to build free online games that support classroom curricula in any subject. As Field Day Lab director David Gagnon ’04, MS’10 explains, “We are not trying to replace any curriculum with video games directly. Games are just part of the puzzle and have a unique ability to allow learners to act and try out their ideas in a realistic context.” In the case of the Field Day digital Yard Games, students (or anyone!) can practice locating earthquake epicenters, tracking carbon cycles, or combining molecules to build crystals. Once students get a chance to try out the games, researchers in the Field Day Lab use the feedback to pinpoint effective strategies for learning to keep driving education forward. And don’t worry — there’s ample opportunity to use this technology in outdoor settings, too. With applications like the lab’s Siftr, teachers can make their very own version of games like Pokémon GO to have students track things like birds, rather than Pikachus and Charizards.

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