Learning through LARP

It has always been difficult to get kids excited about learning. Teachers are constantly trying to find new and innovative ways to motivate kids in regards to their educational goals. And while parents like to enroll their children in educational summer programs to keep them ahead of the curve, the idea of an educational summer camp sounds like tedious cruel and unusual punishment. However, one particular summer camp may have found a fun way for kids to learn by creating a LARP summer camp. Hit the jump to learn more!

When we think LARP, we think fantasy and fictitious languages. However, there is a company that has taken it upon themselves to offer kids a LARP experience that will also teach them about math, science, and other scholastic subjects. I, myself, once took a class at my university which took a closer look at fictitious languages in order to learn more about linguistics as a whole. This idea is not necessarily a new concept but this particular approach is certainly a novel one. When we LARP we think of how to stat out our characters, how a situation might play out based on their abilities, the politics and lore of a realm, etc. Well, Meghan Gardner and her team at Guard Up decided to combine LARP with educational materials to come up with a fun learning environment for kids. Why should LARP be reserved for adults? Gardner has termed this method of learning as “story-based education.” Gardner was inspired by LARP, video games, and choose-your-own-adventure stories and with her background in anthropology, film, martial arts, and fencing, she was able to create a fantastical educational environment.

How effective can something like this be, however? According to a study from medical students in Brazil, when presented with a co-op roleplay scenario to teach participants about cellular biology, this “was preferred by the participants and produced equal or higher retention than traditional lecture-style classes.” Not only can learning in this manner be fun, it can also be more effective! One example of what happens at a Guard Up summer camp is during one storyline, when students approached the camp in the bus, a man in a Jeep pulled up, opened a briefcase, and began handing the children Nerf darts and business cards that simply read, “INGSOC.” One student searched the Internet and found that “INGSOC” is a reference to the classic George Orwell novel, 1984.

The company is based in Burlington, Massachusetts and features several different types of storylines that kids can choose from: the Zombie STEM Summer Camp or the Wizards & Warriors STEM Camp. Below is a short clip of kids in the Zombie STEM Summer Camp analyzing DNA.

So what do you think of LARP summer camp? 

Source: KQED News