In an effort to promote interest in Virginia history, a teacher found a way of teaching the Civil War with a custom video game.
Mia Shand taught fifth grade history for almost two decades. The gifted resource teacher at Agnor-Hurt elementary School in Albemarle County knew that she needed to add a 21 centyury touch to her mehthods, but wasn’t sure how to do it.
“When you’re teaching Virginia Studies, it can be kind of difficult to keep the kids engaged, so I thought that there had to be something we could do, and I reached out to the University of Virginia,” Shand said.
Shand’s solution was to connect with Nicholas Lytle, a computer science student who was a member of the Student Game Developers Club, and computer science professor Mark Floryan. They built a video game for Shand that reinforces Standards of Learning content concerning the Civil War.
“The student’s avatar will walk around and talk to different characters in the game, so there’s a lot of reading and interaction, and every character is important to getting the skill they need in order to finish a level,” Shand said.
The design of the game, A Nation Divided, began with a board game that was tested with students. Then, they devceloped the first pilot of the video game built with the help of the Student Game Developers Club.
“Now they just keep bringing me more strands of the game based on the curriculum,” Shand said.