National Science Foundation
C. Richard Cassady, Edward A. Pohl, Randall Reynolds
University of Arkansas
This project introduces Industrial Engineering topics into Junior High classrooms by means of the video game Roller Coaster Tycoon 2, a theme park simulation game. The topics studied are (i) problem-solving through Cause-and-Effect Diagrams and (ii) queue line investigations. The research also observes the impact of these exercises on the student in other subjects as well.
The challenge for the 2004 RET project was to create an activity involving a simulation-based video game relating to a particular aspect of Industrial Engineering. The activity was to then be used as a laboratory exercise for INEG 1103: Principles of Industrial Engineering and also modified for use as a classroom activity for junior high school students. Obviously, a major issue was designing the activity with a proper level of difficulty for both age groups while keeping the subject matter relevant to meaningful engineering and junior high instruction.
Creating the cause-and effect diagram provided a time to reflect and discuss the exercise with peers and a time for a discussion with the class about career opportunities in engineering and computer programming. It is a treasured opportunity when eighth graders are receptive to a conversation about the future and that was a very positive result of this activity. While the activity was in progress, the students involved also became more focused in their regular math class, which was also a welcome surprise. Overall, this project was well received and worthwhile.