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The United Nations has created a video game for science learning in the classroom

The United Nations has created a video game for science learning in the classroom

The fun device, intended for high school students, was developed by researchers from different disciplines.

And the city ran out of water, and they took notice on social networks, inviting girls and boys to join a team of young people who solve puzzles with science skills. It is about Time Agents, the new video game created by the National University of Rosario (UN) that proposes high school students to travel through time and space to investigate the causes of this problem with the help of science.

The game can be downloaded for free from the website of university, It has been developed together with the Rafaela National University, having been selected as the winner of the 2021 Scientific Culture Projects Call.

Biology, Philosophy, Communication Science and Digital Development come together in this educational project designed for learning through play. “If there is something that distinguishes this project, it is that it is interdisciplinary, everything that was produced was done collectively and collaboratively. Everyone contributed from their point of view and the work was done in an artisanal way, ”emphasizes the working team, made up of biologists Anna Bortolotti and Cecilia de Capua, and philosopher Maria Belén Campero, Correspondents Natalia Fernández Paez, Josefina Niue and Maria Soledad One home.

The video game was shown on May 9 at the headquarters of the United Nations government, and in this activity they were invited to reflect on the potential of these devices in the educational field.

Learn to play

The creators of Agentes del tiempo have focused on creating an educational resource based on gamification, teaching based on games, whether traditional or digital. After going through the pandemic, the premise of the project was that what was created was a communication and science product that could be used in the context of confinement, in addition to being popular and easily accessible. For this reason, the video game is developed for mobile phones, which is what almost all boys and girls have. “It was important to create a product that is popular, and that can be used in any classroom and even homeschooling, if there is a context of isolation.”explains Di Capua, Doctor of Biological Sciences and project manager.

For her part, the informant, María Soledad Casasola, who is in charge of the Science Communication Department at the United Nations, adds: “We are interested in putting science and technology in a dialogue for a specific audience, in this case teenagers. That is why we presented ourselves to this call from the Ministry of Science of the nation with the idea of ​​an interactive game We have also been mobilized with what we are experiencing in the pandemic, making the cell phone that previously did not enter the classroom now become important.”

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In this proposal to learn with a cell phone in hand, the idea that it is possible to present the contents of the curriculum in a playful way is present, which enhances in students the motivation, creativity and incidental skills necessary for today’s life.

The creators of Agentes del tiempo show that in this educational project the points of view of different disciplines come together, and that this is precisely the main strength of the team and the product they have created. Understanding interdisciplinarity as a value that gains dimension in the classroom when learning complex problems.

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Members of the entertainment project Natalia Fernandez Paez, María Soledad Casasola, Cecilia de Capua and Belen Campero.

Selena Moti Lovera

complex problems

The video game features three agents who have to solve a water shortage that is affecting an entire city. They have their base of operations in a facility very similar to the Monument to Science, and also have the ability to travel in time and space. “Being a game, we take certain aesthetic and narrative licenses to make it appealing to our target audience. The agents’ ability to travel in time and space gave us the flexibility to adapt different kinds of themes.”Di Capua explains.

There is a water shortage problem in the water treatment plant of the city concerned which could be Rosario or any other station located on the banks of a river. The game leads you to discover that there is a blockage in a pipe caused by a colony of slugs, which means that an invasive alien species has entered a new ecosystem. Biologists explain that it is a true story, because this situation – without going to that extreme – actually happened in the La Plata and Paraná rivers. But the environmental problem is not the only problem that is addressed in the video game, there are many satellite topics that immerse students in the curricula of other fields of learning.

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“This is not a problem that can only be solved by natural science,” says Di Capua. “There is a problem and different axes go through it, which is why the approach has to be multiple. In order to solve it, the agents have to travel back in time to meet the population “The ancients of that space and knowing what that ecosystem was like before, that’s where history and geography come in. They’ll also have to meet a scientist and an economist who explain international trade, because this problem isn’t just a matter of biology.” The question to be solved in the game was chosen by the team because it offers the possibility of interdisciplinarity. “This is one of the messages we hope to get into the classroom, which is that it is important to connect different perspectives and disciplines to solve complex problems.”says the director.

Breaking stereotypes

Agentes del tiempo is a video game where, in addition, its protagonists break some stereotypes associated with science and in which there is a gender perspective. Agent X is the team leader. A girl who is decisive and energetic in her decisions, she has been working in the Agents of Time for many years. Worker W is an analyst of facts and evidence from a social science perspective and is responsible for the library and archives. For his part, Agent M is a biologist and stands out for his skills in observing and analyzing clues. He is a staunch advocate of nature and the person in charge of a lab where much of his work is done.

When we created these three factors, we believed that there are many stereotypes associated with science and technology. And Casasola and Fernandez Baez add the idea of ​​a dress, and glasses, for the mad scientist who’s always a man: “The gender perspective is cross-cutting for this project. We make sure that in each of the decisions it has this view, for example, that the team leader be a woman, or that one of the characters is not binary, and in the representation of the agents, that their bodies are diverse.”

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But in fact, the real heroes of video games are the users who will join the team to solve a common problem. In this fun proposal, students do not play a passive role, but rather participate in decision-making, choosing between different options in order to deepen their research.

Its creators explain that the choices made guide the game, and that the decision the student makes will move them down a new path. In this way, the same players are the ones to solve the problem. “Agents only intervene by cooperating with the search process to be performed by the requesting user”Di Capua says.

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Selena Moti Lovera

community creation

What potential does the video game have as an educational resource, or what can be learned from the video game? This story can be told within the game on a handy page. I think the video game offers the possibility of presenting and recognizing the subject as a process, which science does, which is more of a process than a product. Although this is considered more detective than laboratory, the idea is for students to understand that this process is necessary,” the principal replies.

The creators assert that the most important contribution of manipulation to the educational field is motivation and the possibility of a more active role on the part of the students.. “Also, it will certainly generate deeper learning, which will be remembered over time because it is important, because it will not be the teacher or the book that provides the answers,” says Cambero.

Although the game is freely accessible and free to download from the United Nations website, the team suggests working on it with teachers. To this end, they called for the formation of a community to work jointly between those who produced them and those who would use them in class. “This is a way to restore the collaborative spirit of science, which is produced not only individually but also collaboratively,” Cambero concludes.

Educators interested in joining the community may complete a form available at The field of science and linking it to the United Nations site. For more information, write to [email protected]