2022 Grants Challenge

Learning STEM Through Digital Gamified Curriculum

Collaborating with ExoDexa, Atari founder Nolan Bushnell's educational platform, 2BCF has created two middle school Digital Gamified Curriculum projects that embed standards- and grade-aligned STEM/STEAM curriculum inside a video game format. It is based on the belief that learning should be enjoyable, that children learn while they do, provided they are absorbed in the task, and that the game industry knows how to keep kids in their games and aspiring to the next level. Critical thinking and problem solving become second nature.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

K-12 STEAM Education

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

LAUSD (select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

LAUSD graduates approximately 32,000 seniors every year, but, according to a White House report, only 20% (6,400) of them are proficient enough to succeed at college math, substantially excluding them from America's STEM workforce. At the same time, it is estimated that by 2025, 3.5 million STEM jobs in the US will go unfilled with profound implications for our workforce, our nation's long-term prosperity, our global position, and for our national security. Put simply, we do not teach STEM early enough, often enough, in enough delivery modes, or equitably among girls and communities of color. Each year, we graduate thousands of non-STEM-proficient young people who will lead less fulfilling lives, feeding the ever-widening income gap which aggravates our social/racial/political divide. Not only are our kids not STEM-proficient, we are not creating the problem-solvers and critical thinkers who will be key in resolving the existential problems facing our country and our planet.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

2BCF has worked with ExoDexa and its founder Nolan Bushnell of Atari fame to create two digital gamified STEAM curriculum projects for Middle School students. 2BCF created the standards-aligned STEM/STEAM curriculum and ExoDexa created the video game background. The first project, Stop Motion, focuses on storytelling, writing, planning and filming a stop motion animation short film. The second project, Sustainable Entrepreneurship, focuses on learning and using a business canvas model for sustainable practices to create a 21st century business. Stop Motion has also been double Beta-tested with students from middle schools that are part of the 2BCF network. An LA2050 grant would help 2BCF take Sustainable Entrepreneurship through Beta testing and both games through the next, more intense evaluation phase as a precursor to public release. Both projects will be presented by 2BCF facilitators to ten (10) LAUSD middle school classes, each over 5 weeks long. Students will take a pre-then-post survey on both the curriculum and gaming aspects. The facilitators will also provide their assessments of student performance. Evaluators will look for how the students interact with the game, do they absorb the curriculum, can they "play the game" and complete tasks without ongoing assistance, and are they engaged in the learning. Once all ten schools have completed the course and their surveys, 2BCF evaluators and ExoDexa will make final adjustments before public release.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Los Angeles County is awash with STEAM-related career opportunities from aerospace to the film industry, from shipyards to home building. Yet, theoretically, only 20% of our high school graduates, disproportionately White, are sufficiently STEM proficient to pursue them. Instead, we have an ever-widening income disparity gap due in part to a job market that favors more educated workers. In Los Angeles, the most diverse, most inventive city in the country, we can start to apply a more relevant way to teach STEAM and begin to reverse these troubling statistics. We can produce more, and more diverse, preK-12 students who are STEM proficient and qualified to step into our own more equitable STEM workforce. We will begin to raise family incomes, lower unemployment, and stabilize communities. Los Angeles, said to reinvent itself every two years, can lead the country to a reinvention of how we educate our children for a STEAM-dominated world, and prepare them for the challenges ahead.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

2BCF will consider this evaluation phase of the Gamified Curriculum project a success when we complete a rigorous survey process within the ten participating schools, have made the changes to the curriculum or games deemed necessary, and can release the two projects to the public. 2BCF has used pre-then-post surveys for as long as we have been delivering STEM/STEAM curriculum. Our surveys give us an indication of where students are before and after our work together. Are they familiar with the subject matter? Are they gamers? We will ask about the student's experience with the game. Were they able to "level up?" Did the game help or hinder their grasp of the curriculum? We will cross-reference student feedback against expected learning outcomes/goals. We will also consider input from the facilitator. We finally cross-reference teacher intent, curriculum outcomes and student feedback and ask, "does the product work as intended?" When the answer is "yes," we release the projects.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 500

Indirect Impact: 300,000