IBM highlighted the deep science behind the latest video games and encouraged middle school students to pursue careers in math and science at an open house at the company's $3 billion East Fishkill, New York, microchip manufacturing center, which produces the chips that power the latest systems from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.
IBM will distribute an education package, including print, video and other multi-media materials, to members of IBM's On Demand Community, IBM's global volunteer initiative with nearly 80,000 employees and retirees, highlighting the technology behind the latest video game systems and encouraging students to embrace math and science education at an early age.
Educational sessions at East Fishkill were led by Dr. Michael Nelson, IBM's director of Internet Technology and Strategy. "The introduction of next generation systems from the leaders in video gaming offers a unique opportunity to reinforce the importance of math and science education at the earliest possible age," said Nelson. "Kids love gaming, and math and science make games possible."
IBM has a strong history of encouraging students to study math and science so that they are prepared for future technical careers. Through numerous programs beginning in the pre-Kindergarten years through high school, IBM is reaching out to students and teachers to introduce math and science, support interest in these subjects, and encourage students to continue their studies.
"There is so much opportunity for students in the technical fields, and gaming is opening many new and exciting options," said Robin Willner, vice president of IBM Global Community Initiatives. "But in order for students to play in the future of gaming, they need to be prepared academically. Today we're trying to make that connection for the students in a fun, interactive way."
At the open house, students from Bronx and Dutchess counties attended a presentation about gaming technology and how it is changing education, health care, energy exploration and other industries. Students saw applications such as a 3-D rendering of the human heart and met Jai, IBM's gaming representative in the digital world. In addition, students had the opportunity to experience first hand the next generation of gaming consoles and meet some of the IBM employees responsible for developing the chips that power them.
"An important factor in keeping kids engaged in math and science is making the subjects interesting and relevant to them," said Willner. "Gaming technology is fun and helps us demonstrate that science and technology careers are fun and full of opportunities, too. Taking gaming technology to students is the perfect next step in IBM's work to encourage students to stick with their math and science studies."
According to Willner, "It's never too early to start learning about the science behind gaming." Starting with pre-K students, IBM's KidSmart Early Learning Program introduces children to math and science through its Young Explorer computers equipped with early-learning educational software housed in colorful children's desk furniture.
IBM keeps students' interest up in the middle school years through IBM's TryScience Web site, the first online, global science museum, makes it easy and fun for children, teachers and parents to explore the world of science and engineering. In addition, IBM EX.I.T.E. Camps, week-long, summer day camps for middle school girls held at IBM facilities, show girls exciting career opportunities in technology and engineering, introduce them to female role models, and provide hands-on experiences in technical activities that are fun, challenging and educational. Through IBM MentorPlace, IBM employees mentor students online providing academic assistance and career counseling, while letting them know that adults do care about their issues and concerns.
In 2006, IBM and the Computer Science Teachers Association introduced free access to computer science resources for high school teachers. With just a few clicks, teachers can access a series of lesson plans, guidebooks and topic overviews to incorporate concepts of computer programming and Web design into everyday computer science, math and science classes.