University of Vermont

Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education

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Meet Carmen Petrick-Smith

Dr. Petrick-Smith joined the University of Vermont as an assistant professor of mathematics education in UVM's Middle Level program, and has brought with her from the University of Texas at Austin an interest in how embodied learning environments and game play impact student learning in mathematics and computer science.

She worked with students on the popular puzzle game Refraction and is currently working with embodied learning via the Kinect for Xbox360.

Carmen's full bio

Educational Gaming

One of the newest projects undertaken by Tarrant Institute researchers involves the ARIS mobile gaming environment, developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Susan Hennessey and Audrey Homan are in the process of developing pilot games for use with middle school students in the hope that the students will then create better games that can be integrated into the classroom and curriculum.


We currently have three ARIS games under development. You can read more about the first one, DCF Book Run, here. It made its public debut at the Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fisher Awards conference on May 3rd.

The second, Good Doctor / Grave Robber, examines the life and criminal past-times of Dr. John Gifford, a 19th century medical pioneer and founder of the Gifford Memorial Hospital in Randolph VT. In his last year of medical school, Dr. Gifford was arrested for grave-robbing, and in moving through this game, we ask students to imagine 19th century medicine and law, and try to envision in what type of environment a physician could be both a grave-robber and an upstanding and respected Vermonter who changed the course of history and medicine in this state.

As one 7th grader put it, "This is way better than sitting in a circle reading out of the textbook."

Good Doctor / Grave Robber debuted at MGI 2011, and later appeared as an introductory ARIS exercise with Dr. Petrick-Smith's sophomore educational gaming class in Spring 2012.

The third is a short exercise in using a QR-code-based scavenger hunt in the math classroom -- or rather outside of it. In The EpiQRious Caterpillar, players help a very hungry caterpillar locate 12 different peppers around the school, then do some basic calculations based on the Scoville units of those peppers in order to make a salsa. The EpiQRious Caterpillar will return in 2014 as part of our newest ARIS game, "Sam Spade: Garden PI".

The Tarrant Institute hosts a Burlington-area ARIS developers group, which meets monthly at UVM and maintains an active list-serv. One of the group members, Angelique Fairbrothers, recently piloted a STEM-based ARIS game with freshmen in the Franklin West Supervisory Union.

This fall, we will also be working with Morrisville 7th grade educator Maura Kelly and her students in developing a community-focused ARIS game set in the town of Morrisville.

Keep up with all our game development experiences over at Audrey's blog, Please use your powers for good.

Last modified July 22 2013 04:00 PM