SciGames: Guided Play Games to Enhance Science Engagement and Learning

David Kanter, Sameer Honwad, Ruth Diones, Adiel Fernandez and Michelle Riconscente


In this paper we present a set of design principles for the creation and implementation of guided play games (GPGs) to support science learning and, and report on an experimental pilot study in which we tested the effectiveness of two playground-based GPGs we developed through our SciGames initiative. Specifically, we investigated whether GPGs could positively influence behavioral, emotional, and cognitive engagement, and at the same time support science content learning. We compared the outcomes for students who played the GPGs with those of students who engaged in free play with the same playground equipment but without any guides to their play. Results showed that GPG students persisted longer, engaged in significantly more scientific talk, and demonstrated greater knowledge gains compared to free play students. We discuss implications of the design principles and this study for future research and instructional design that leverages play and technology to support students' engagement and learning in science domains.