THE SCIENCE OF DRAGONS: HOW DREAMWORKS MADE A GAME OUT OF STEM EDUCATION

DreamWorks Animation is further expanding its How to Train Your Dragon franchise into games that teach kids about science and technology, while its VFX and gaming divisions find new applications for immersive technology.

What do dragons have to do with STEM?

Two years ago, DreamWorks Animation and Jumpstart, a children’s educational gaming company, rolled out an evolving series of science-themed mobile multiplayer online games, School of Dragons, based on the How to Train Your Dragon film franchise. The MMO has drawn some 16 million players, aged 8-13.

This month, Jumpstart introduces a new School of Dragons 20-game expansion pack, Call of the Death Song, featuring new adventures of the Viking/dragon posse incorporating storylines from DreamWorks’ new TV series Dragons: Race to the Edge, which premiered on Netflix last month. The games involve learning-based journeys to new landscapes that surreptitiously integrate earth science, engineering, physics, and chemistry.

Dragons aren’t mythological; they’re biological—so the science is all around them,” says Taylor Lord, Jumpstart’s community manager, making reference to the games’ creative gateway into science, which increases in complexity as players learn. “We teach kids to learn by scientific method, to teach them to teach themselves.”

How the Vikings live, how they build, what they grow, the different landscapes they visit, and the way the dragons fly all apply to lessons about engineering, physics, integrated ecosystems and species coexistence. The games require players to use science to solve problems to complete quests. For example, Alchemy Adventure has kids mixing elements from the periodic table to desired flame colors and explosions. Another, The Lab, teaches players the scientific method by solving problems by having them gather information, form a hypothesis, and test it out.

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