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It’s all fun and (smart) games

June 11, 2013

Girls-Game-Camp2Imagine taking classes by video game. You wouldn’t just try to get to the next level or beat the game for the fun of it, you would play to ace a test and pass a class. Researchers are harnessing that motivation to play and win video games to teach new and challenging concepts to learners of all ages.

At the next STEM Café, NIU experts Brianno Coller and Aline Click will discuss the successes they have had using video games as a vehicle for learning.  The program “Get Your Learn on Like Donkey Kong: Gaming to Engage Your Mind” will take place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, at Eduardo’s Restaurant located at 214 E. Lincoln Hwy. in DeKalb.

The event is free and open to the public. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Brianno Coller

Brianno Coller

Coller, professor of Mechanical Engineering at NIU, has been using video games for eight years to help students solve difficult engineering problems. The students must employ creative thinking and advanced problem-solving skills as well as a mastery of math and science to create successful solutions to the games. Students who learn with his games show greater achievement of learning outcomes and improved engagement in their courses.

“The results speak for themselves,” Coller said.

Aline Click

Aline Click

Click, director of eLearning Services and the Digital Convergence Lab (DCL), has been developing learning games for ten years. In addition to creating games with teams of NIU students, the DCL sponsors summer camps where learners, anywhere from fifth grade students to adults, can get hands-on experience with video game design and development.

“The complexity of the games and the teamwork required always surprise game-builders,” Click said.

NIU STEM Outreach presents these free STEM Cafés every month. Food and drinks are available for purchase from the host restaurant. Upcoming presentations include:

  • WISSARDs of Antarctic (encore presentation) –  July 9 at Claddaugh Irish Pub in Geneva
  • The Science of Beer  – August 6 at Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora
  • Star Gazing – August 11 at Acquaviva Winery in Maple Park

The STEM Café series is just one of the many ways STEM Outreach helps the public learn about the critical role that the STEM fields play in today’s rapidly changing world.

Find more information on upcoming STEM Cafés and other events from STEM Outreach at, or contact Judith Dymond at [email protected] or (815) 753-4751.