How might we DESIGN a school KIDS LOVE GOING TO?
QUEST TO LEARN
In 2007 the MacArthur Foundation was particularly interested in solving the problem of young people being disengaged with school. What if we could build a public school they asked, where students are excited about learning, solving problems and facing complex challenges?
THE BIG IDEA
Let's use the underlying elements of play to build a school where learning is irresistible.
THE DESIGN PROCESS
At the core of developing the school model was the principle of bringing together domain experts to co-design learning that feels like play. In that context each teacher was paired with a game designer and together they created "Missions"; playful curricula that had students take on a role, follow a narrative that presented them with a "Need to know" and master the necessary skills to accomplish a clear goal. The process took part in a repurposed classroom called Mission Lab, a prototyping studio that was also open to students to co-design and play-test learning games for areas they struggled with.
a CASE STUDY
Probability and Frequency were math concepts 7th graders at Quest to Learn were struggling with. Together with the math teacher Alicia Iannucci and her students we designed Caterpillar, a game about chance and managing resources that have been placed just out of reach.
Quest to Learn opened in the fall of 2009 with 76 sixth graders. In their first semester, these students learned—among other things—to convert fractions into decimals in order to break a piece of code found in a library book; to use atlases and read maps to create a location guide for a reality television series; and to create video tutorials for a hapless group of fictional inventors.
Today the school is a thriving community of inspiring teachers, students and parents. It is considered a model for what 21st century school looks like.