Computer games are increasingly used for educational purposes, and in fact there is now a large body of research demonstrating the effectiveness of computer games on learning. There are computer games to help kids increase their vocabulary and learn their multiplication tables. There are games that help kids with cancer learn more about the disease, and games that teach kids about world hunger. There are games that allow surgeons to practice their skills before attemping to operate on real, live patients. There is even a game that immerses you in the life and times of Shakespeare.
While there are computer-science oriented games, most of them (like Alice) are designed to teach kids how to program. There are few, if any, games that teach kids about how computers work. Yet knowing how computers work is one factor that attracts people to study computer science. (And if your parents are anything like mine, they frown on giving you free reign to dismantle the family computer and try to put it back together.) Designing a game that teaches kids about what goes on inside a computer, and how computers are put together, can help foster kids' in computer science before the crucial junior high period, in which students' interest in computer science drops off significantly.
In this project, you will be designing a computer game aimed at 6-8 year olds that teaches them how computers work. Your tasks in this project will include:
John Kirriemuir and Angela McFarlane, "Literature Review in Games and Learning", Futurelab technical report, 2006. (pdf)
Begona Gross, "The Impact of Digital Games in Education", First Monday, vol 8 no 3, July 2003.
More to be added, shortly...