Purdue STEM event shows off middle school exergame inventions

December 8, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Middle school students will demonstrate their exercise game innovations during a showcase Thursday (Dec. 10) at Purdue University.

Five teams from four Indiana middle schools will explain the "exergames" they created as part of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute TECHFIT project in Black and Gold Gyms 1-3 at the France A. Córdova Recreational Sports Center.

The TECHFIT (Teaching Engineering Concepts to Harness Future Innovators and Technologists) project is designed to use kids' interest in video games and problem-solving to inspire them to gain the STEM skills needed to invent technology-based fitness games that battle childhood obesity.

Lafayette's Sunnyside Intermediate School (two teams), Winamac Middle School in Winamac, Woodlan Junior/Senior High School in Woodburn and Bremen Public School in Bremen are participating in the showcase.

The school teams have 20 minutes to demonstrate their "exergame" creation. Awards will be given following the presentations. The event is open to the public.

The project is headed up by Purdue professors Brad and Alka Harriger, in collaboration with faculty from the College of Charleston, S.C.

"TECHFIT students are inventing functional games that occupy a large portion of a gym floor, incorporate lights that turn on and off, buzzers that sound and sensors that detect movement," Alka Harriger said. "They involve groups of students and are all designed and programmed by the students themselves."

She said it is amazing to see what the students can build, adding the project can delve into untapped STEM potential in underserved or underrepresented school areas.

"The TECHFIT experience builds confidence and interest for students through the realization that they can build solutions to big societal problems," she said. "In TECHFIT's case, the problem is physical inactivity."

Middle school teachers of these students completed an intensive, summer development workshop to prepare them to deliver the TECHFIT afterschool programs at their schools.

The Harrigers are overseeing a similar showcase in South Carolina involving middle school teams there.

Writer: Brian L. Huchel, 765-494-2084, bhuchel@purdue.edu

Source: Alka Harriger, 765-494-2565, harrigea@purdue.edu

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