Mason Tipapa Ntuala

Mynderse Academy freshman Mason Tipapa Ntuala participated in a STEM summer camp that used a video game platform to further instruction in science, technology, engineering and math.

Parents often tell their children to stop playing video games, that it will not get them anywhere.

For two weeks this summer more than 60 middle- and high-school students from throughout the region, including Mynderse Academy freshman Mason Tipapa Ntuala, set out to prove the older generation wrong.

The students participated in the AT&T ROC Virtual STEM Summer Camp powered by Tyto Online. It used a STEM-based video game platform to provide the students engaging science, technology, engineering and math lessons.

Ntuala presented his video game idea at the final event that was held Aug. 21.

The program, which was free for all students to eliminate economic barriers, helped enhance students’ STEM knowledge and skills as they completed activities during live, instructor-led sessions and with their peers using an educational video game format, which is part of Immersed Games’ Tyto Online digital educational product. They also met game developers, learned about exciting STEM careers, and were coached in designing their own science-based quests.

The virtual program was created to provide local students an opportunity to learn, interact with other students, and have fun safely to fill the void left by so many summer programs being canceled due to the pandemic.

The AT&T ROC Virtual STEM Summer Camp, a partnership between AT&T and Immersed Games, was offered to public school students as an opportunity to refresh their educational skills and address the STEM summer slide — the loss of STEM knowledge that children experience when they take a break from their academic routines. The slide was compounded this year with the abrupt move to distance learning in March, the result of COVID-19.

The camp used video games to set up authentic science problems that students were able to research and solve while being fully immersed as a character within the video game. The program also included new content focused on COVID-19 and racial justice; how science and technology can be used to address both of these vital issues; and an opportunity to look at careers in STEM jobs, including video game development careers and meeting professional platform developers.

Students worked through the program to create their own quest proposals around these relevant topics.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor, much of the growth in the domestic and global economy will come from STEM-related jobs — a highly lucrative and competitive field. It is estimated by 2025 there will be 3.5 million unfilled STEM jobs in America, underscoring the importance of providing youth the tools and skills necessary to compete in this innovation economy.

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