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Pathogen Patrol — PLTW’s first learning experience on Roblox — gives educators access to new instructional tools for STEM learning.

Roblox, PLTW team up for immersive STEM experience

Pathogen Patrol--PLTW’s first learning experience on Roblox--gives educators access to new instructional tools for STEM learning

Key points:

  • Immersive learning experiences are highly engaging and give students another way to grasp key STEM concepts
  • Roblox and Project Lead The Way are offering 3D immersive learning with a new STEM experience
  • See related article: Are you teaching with Roblox? You should be

Immersive learning experiences are all the rage, and for good reason—they engage students and help make challenging concepts–particularly STEM concepts–a bit easier to learn thanks to they way they are presented.

Pathogen Patrol, a new 3D immersive learning experience from Project Lead The Way, brings important STEM learning content to life. These learning experiences give students another way to learn educational concepts, such as space exploration or different processes in the human body, which are typically challenging to teach with traditional methods.

An added bonus? Pathogen Patrol is available on Roblox.

The experience was developed with support from the Roblox Community Fund, which offers investments, grants, and advances to exceptional education organizations and developers to help them create free, curriculum-based educational experiences on Roblox for immersive and collaborative learning, including for underserved communities. The initiative is part of Roblox Education’s goal to engage 100 million students in high-quality learning on Roblox by 2030. Pathogen Patrol was created by instructional developers at PLTW and brought to life on Roblox through the creative minds at Tipping Point Media. 

In Pathogen Patrol, students and users are transported into the body of a sick patient to help defend their patient against invading pathogens. Students take on the roles of five different white blood cells, discovering each cell’s unique abilities. They collaborate as a team and learn how the cells function together to protect the health of the host. Through fun and collaborative gameplay, students gain a deep and enduring understanding of the human body and its response to infection. Pathogen Patrol™ aims to spark students’ interest in learning and engage audiences who might not typically identify with STEM.

Pathogen Patrol builds upon PLTW’s Biomedical Science curriculum by integrating medically accurate experiences into immersive environments. Pathogen Patrol will be a key learning experience in the Human Body Systems course within the PLTW Biomedical Sciences pathway starting with the 2023-2024 school year.

Hard-to-measure higher-order thinking skills in learning standards, such as critical thinking, systems thinking, and creativity, increase in the level of deep thinking they demand as students move through grades—”but when we look at the reality of what’s in most curricular instructional materials, we see a tendency towards more of the lower roads of thinking,” said Rebecca Kantar, vice president of education at Roblox.

While Roblox’s education team historically focused on Roblox Studio, it had an opportunity to meet a growing demand for tools and methods to get at deeper learning standards. “That was a dominant call for students to do more of the type of thinking that they have to do as adults, and that representative match of what we’re spending time on in school being similar to what we have to spend time on as adults,” Kantar said.

The gaming concepts inherent to Roblox’s platform come in handy for students as they tackle more challenging learning concepts.

“Our strategy is predicated upon a notion that kids love Roblox and find it engaging. They already want to be there, so if we’re able to delight them with a realization that, [while] what you’re doing in Project Pathogen or in school [isn’t] not always pure fun, it’s challenging in a way that feels rewarding,” Kantar said.

Concepts that are native to gaming—perseverance and social aspects—make for a motivational learning experience.

“What’s important about Roblox is we already have a ready and willing community of young people using the platform who are used to persevering through challenges, particularly with their friends. They’re used to iterating, used to their avatar exploding into 100 pieces and getting right back up and trying again,” Kantar said.

“If we can take advantage of that norm and expectation and translate it to [PLTW’s Project Pathogen] experience, but also capitalize on the fact that they already expect the platform to be social, and a lot of what keeps them there and is fun is that their friends are there too, well now we have this added benefit of motivation to try hard in these experiences because you’re working with your friends, you want to stay engaged, you want to demonstrate their skill,” she added.

“Students today need to be met where they are in their education journey. PLTW sees Roblox as an important platform that offers tools and easy access from anywhere in the world to help achieve this,” said David Greer, executive vice president and chief program officer at PLTW. “Experiential learning through Roblox allows students to learn by doing in a way not possible before. They will gain enduring understandings through repeated gameplay and master complex concepts without even realizing they are learning.”

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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