Gina Navoa Svarovsky
Gina Navoa Svarovsky is a Research Fellow at the Academic Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Laboratory and a graduate student in the Learning Sciences program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After graduating with her degree in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame, Gina entered ACE, a two-year volunteer program serving under-resourced schools. While teaching high school science, she became increasingly interested in how students engaging in authentic engineering design projects could better understand concepts in physics. This lead her to the Epistemologies of Practice research group at UW and the Games and Professional Practice Simulations research initative at the Academic ADL Co-Lab. She is currently working on the Digital Zoo project, where middle school girls are working as biomechanical engineers to develop structural character prototypes for an upcoming animated feature film.
digital zoo: sodaconstructing the next generation of engineers
"Children are born engineers. Everything they see, they want to
change. They want to remake their world. They want to move dirt and
pile sand. They want to build dams and make lakes. They want to launch
ships of sticks. They want to stack blocks and cans and boxes. They
want to build towers and bridges."
In the epistemic role-playing game digital zoo, "born engineers" cultivate their natural tendencies to explore, create, and design by working as biomechanical engineers who solve design problems in a realtime persistent world. Players begin to develop the engineering epistemic frame by designing character prototypes for an upcoming animated film on SodaConstructor, a Java-based spring-mass modeling simulation. They also conduct prototype evaluations, interface with clients, and balance competing design objectives as they learn about engineering design, physics, and animation.
In this talk, I will present an overview of digital zoo and data from gameplay, focusing on how engaging in authentic engineering practice can foster the development of specific elements of the engineering epistemic frame.