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Dec. 16, 2019

New game app gets young girls involved in STEM

Huey-Wen Lin, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering at Michigan State University, developed the new game app “Quantum 3” to get the general public and K-12 children involved in learning more about Quantum Chromodynamics, or QCD, a theory that governs the interactions of subatomic particles that form all stable matter.

The game allows you to build subatomic particles, learn about the mysteries of fundamental physics and deploy antimatter to clear the way. The game has a premise similar to Candy Crush. You puzzle out the quantum properties of color, flavor and spin. The main components of the game quarks and gluons are the smallest particles we know about often referred to as “fundamental” particles. 

According to Lin, QCD is a theory that dominates the world of the very small and is responsible for our existence and mass. 

The new app was inspired by the New York Times article “How to get girls into coding,” a part of a nationwide drive to get more girls into physics and coding. Some educators believe gaming could be a way to get girls interested in coding and STEM topics. 

Through the immersive framework of interactive gameplay, this QCD phone game will allow the public to peek into the QCD research world. The game design falls into the “Match 3” genre, which typically attracts a higher ratio of female players. The game also is color-blind friendly.

“We formed a development team of MSU undergraduate students to make the game and provided them with a QCD curriculum. The game will be tested at MSU outreach activities, as well as among local K-12 girls through school activities, and feedback will be used to improve the design,” Lin said. “The final game can be easily downloaded through various app stores and the impact will be measured through a follow-up survey. If such a new direction works to attract more girls to coding and physics, one should develop more games to engage more girls in STEM.” 

The MSU undergraduate development team includes: Tristan Özkan, Harrison Sanders, Rebecca Roman, Roman Firestone and Colleen Little.

The project was a collaboration with MSU’s Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab and the National Science Foundation.

The game is available to download from Google Play and the Apple Appstore.

For more information, click here

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