How You Can Gamify Your STEM/STEAM Lab1. Make challenge cards.
I looked online for ready-made challenges and used the instruction booklets that came with our kits to create challenge cards for our students. As we add to our STEM lab and work toward making our lab a true STEAM lab we will continue to add challenge cards and create badges to match. You can view our challenge cards and challenge card template here. Feel free to make a copy to use and/or start creating your own.
2. Create your own or find ready-made digital badges.
I used Google Draw to create our badges. After following this tutorial Creating a Badge with Google Draw by Alice Keeler it was easy to create our own template and make our own badges. You can upload all of our STEM Lab badges for ideas and inspiration or use them in your own lab.
littleBits Art Bot Badge
Looking to find more badge resources? Cate Tolnai is who inspired me to explore badges, she shares lots of resources on Twitter and on her blog. Also check out 5 Awesome Resources for Badges in the Classroom by Kasey Bell.
3. Identify a way to keep track of earnings.
In our lab we go pretty low tech with a simple STEM Lab Student Check Off Sheet. Each student has their own check off sheet which is kept in a file under their teacher's name. While in the lab the students let us know when they have earned a badge and they get it initialed by me or their teacher.
If you want to go totally digital check out Creating Badges with Google Sheets by Alice Keeler. This awesome post shows you how to create (in draw), then organize and assign digital badges with Google Sheets.
4. Display those shiny new badges!
Now that our students have started earning their badges they need a place to display them. The fourth and fifth graders are creating a Google Site as their digital portfolio so one page is dedicated to displaying their badges. The 2nd and 3rd graders will use this My Badges Google Doc assigned through Google Classroom to display their badges.
Example of "My Badges" page on a Google Site
What our Gamification & Badge System is NOT
So far our badge system has worked out really well in our STEM Lab. Our kids are excited about the badges and look forward to displaying them on their Google site or badge page. We are still working out the kinks and will continue to create challenges and badges as we grow our STEM Lab. However, it is important to note what our challenges and badges are NOT.
- It is NOT a competition. There is no public display of which badges are earned by whom. The Google Sites and Docs can be shared of course but only if the students share them. Students who work together on projects all earn the badge. We go over this together and teamwork is encouraged.
- It is NOT a requirement. Students do not have to earn badges. It is completely optional for students to work towards badges. I will be creating "inventor" badges soon for students who just want to create something new but also would like a badge (check the badges folder and challenge cards for updates).
- It is NOT used for assessment. Our challenges and badges are a fun way to encourage students to create and discover in the lab. The badges give students something to "take" with them after their time in the lab. It can be tough for a kid to work hard on an awesome marble run then have to dismantle it when it's time to clean up!
- Our Makerspace is NOT gamified. When the kids are just making and creating there are no directions or badges to earn (other than an "I am A Maker" badge) just tools, resources, and their own imagination.
Gamification is definitely on the rise and badges are just one way to bring it into your classroom. There are tons of resources out there to help you get started with gamification. Here are a few I've found. Please share more in the comments!
- Explore Like A Pirate: Engage, Enrich, and Elevate Your Learners with Gamification and Game-inspired Course Design by Michael Matera is the newest book from Dave Burgess. Explore Like A Pirate is all about bringing elements of gameplay into your class.
- Brian Aspinall has created Edmettle a gamified way to provide feedback and positive reinforcement for Learning Skills and Work Habits. Check out his blog post to learn more about Edmettle.
- Steven Isaacs is a Video Game Design and Development teacher and shares tons of resources on Twitter and his blog. He is a fantastic resource and one to follow for sure!
- Jerry Blumengarten has a page on almost everything so it's no surprise that he has one on Games in Education. This page includes a list of "Game Mavens" to follow on Twitter, links to A Must Have Guide to Gaming In The Classroom, Gamification Guide, The 20 Best Blogs about Game Based Learning and MUCH more.
Also check out this crowdsourced padlet FULL of Gamification resources!