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Nov 09, 2016 10:24 AM EST

College Students Use Pokemon GO to Teach STEM Concepts to Fourth Graders

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Pokemon Go took the smartphone world by storm with its novel way of playing the 20-year-old franchise. This time, the game has become more than just a game - it has become a means to teach STEM subjects to fourth graders.

Juniors in a technology in education class at the Dakota State University (DSU) in Madison used Pokemon Go, the famous augmented-reality game designed by Niantic, to teach local fourth graders science, technology, engineering, and math concepts, the THE Journal reported.

"We started with the Pokémon Go framework," Mark Geary, the ed tech course's instructor at DSU, said. "We're trying to place the characters in a backdrop that had STEM significance."

The college students actually got the idea for the from students at the St. Thomas School in Madison. The fourth graders would accompany the college students to a nearby park to find some Pokemon and take images of them.

Afterwards, the fourth graders will return to DSU with the college students to make STEM-related observations, such as the math behind a bridge construction, and the gravity at work in the playground.

Geary said that while his college students weren't very excited about the idea, they became interested at how the fourth graders became so involved with the project.

The kids "got very, very engaged with it very rapidly," said Geary.

This is not the first time that Pokemon Go has been used to teach students various subjects. Students enrolled at the Business Information Technology course at Salford University in U.K., for example, are required to play the game so that they can be awarded with credits in the course, Daily Mail reported.

While the mechanics as to how the game relates to the course aren't clear, Salford University Dr. David Kreps says it will make the course more accessible for students.

Pokemon Go has also inspired a school to create its own game, "Mutant Go," to bring a fun learning experience to students, Edutopia reported. Unlike Pokemon Go, however, this game only needed art materials and imagination.

Natalie Catlett, art teacher at IB World School in Sao Paulo, Brazil, asked students to draw their own mutants that they will hide in various areas in the school. This enabled Catlett to teach students various art concepts such as appropriation, occupation of physical space, and the nature of ephemeral art.

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