Industry Circle: Filament Games measures results in learning games


In our second installment of the G4C Industry Circle series, Filament Games shares a case study evaluating the impact of their engineering game Backyard Engineers. Hear even more about how Filament makes learning games and measures their results at our upcoming Google Hangout on September 17 at 2 p.m. EST. Send questions for our Q&A session via Twitter or Facebook with #G4CIndustry. RSVP here.


A Case For Learning Games

Together with physical classroom activities, learning games afford students a more comprehensive view of classroom materials and a more dynamic classroom experience. Learning games can teach students about dynamic content in ways textbooks cannot. With Filament Games, students can explore organ systems, travel through the body as a cell, and watch plants grow and bloom in a matter of minutes. Learning games provide a safe environment for students to explore these environments and experiment with these systems.

Good learning games aren’t designed just for fun; they are designed to teach students predetermined learning outcomes. This case study on the game Backyard Engineers shows how learning games, used in conjunction with other classroom activities, can increase student learning.


Backyard Engineers Case Study

Implementing game-based learning in the classroom creates opportunities for students to further their knowledge by exploring content in a meaningful and engaging way. Not only do learning games inspire and engage students — they help build critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and teamwork skills.

Learning games can be used in the classroom to teach new content, reinforce previously taught content, and measure student learning. Learning games are at their most beneficial when integrated with additional instructional activities [1]. A well-designed learning game can be seamlessly integrated into classroom experiences to create a richer, more dynamic learning ecosystem. Michele Huppert, seventh-grade STREAM (science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, and math) teacher at Spring Valley Middle School in Wisconsin, incorporated Backyard Engineers into her classroom activities and did just that.

Backyard Engineers is an engineering learning game aligned to middle-school science standards. In order to successfully complete the game, students must customize different catapult elements in order to manipulate movement, accuracy, and range.

In order to bring the advantages of game-based learning into the classroom, Backyard Engineers was incorporated into an interdisciplinary unit tied to Next Generation Science Standards. Not only did the students enjoy participating in the game, results showed an increase in test scores between a pre- and post-test.


Key Results

  • An average 20.09% increase in general student scores between pre- and post-test
  • An average 9.56% increase in scores for students with identified special needs between pre- and post test
  • An average 17.42% increase in scores across all students between pre- and post-test

Key Components of Study Design

  • Pre- and post-test data: Gained through testing using Google Forms
  • Designated in-class game play time
  • Integration of digital and physical activities to reinforce classroom content
  • Post-experience reflective writing activities

Google Forms were utilized to create pre- and post-tests for the 63 seventh-grade students (16 of them were students with identified special needs) in this case study. All of the students received access to Backyard Engineers and played the game on designated lab days. Students also played Backyard Engineers on their own outside of class.

The game reinforced concepts that the students were learning during classroom lessons and activities. Concepts included catapult criteria and constraints, structural design, forces, velocity and acceleration, and work and energy.

In addition to playing Backyard Engineers, the students participated in a culminating event in which they were asked to design, build, and test catapults, towers, and heraldic banners. The students were then able to physically play a game similar to that of Backyard Engineers. When working in teams, students developed social and collaborative skills by selecting leaders to fill team positions.

Backyard Engineers features dashboard capabilities that allow teachers to check in on progress and assess which learning objectives students have encountered. This function is available in real-time, allowing just-in-time intervention when students need it most! Integrated free curriculum is also available to enhance student learning and provide additional classroom activities.

Go to to learn more about implementing game-based learning and schedule a demo!

1. Wouters, P., van Nimwegen, C., van Oostendorp, H., & van der Spek, E. D. (2013, February 4). A Meta-Analysis of the Cognitive and Motivational Effects of Serious Games. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(2), 249-265.

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