Published: Sept. 1, 2011 By

When Rod Falk’s middle school students create their own arcade classics like FroggerPac-Man and Space Invaders in his computer lab, they develop critical thinking skills.

And like Pac-Man and his pellets, they’re snapping the lessons up.

Falk, who teaches in La Veta, Colo., is among the 60-some middle and high school teachers who traveled to campus for the Scalable Game Design Summer Institute to learn video game design. The goal was to bring the skills to their classrooms and better engage students.

In its third year, the project brings leading research practices and findings in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines into K-12 learning settings. CU-Boulder is a leading STEM practitioner.

The skills students learn could be used to create simulations of virus outbreaks and the spread of forest fires to help them learn data analysis and statistics.