Gaming and the NISE Network: A Gameful Approach to STEM Learning Experiences

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We believe games can be powerful tools for learning, and inspire strong connections between people and content. The NISE Network experimented with many game formats over our decade-long project focused on nanoscale science, engineering, and technology. This guide focuses on a handful of examples, ranging from simple card games to large-scale exhibit components, to illustrate approaches we found successful for incorporating gameplay into informal STEM learning experiences. More games within the full collection of NISE Net educational materials can be found in the Program and Activities section of this website. 

Gaming is one of the most promising educational program formats to quickly reach a large and diverse set of learners. This guide leverages NISE Net’s experiences to discuss general development and implementation strategies for games that can be widely applied to a range of learning experiences for museums and beyond. 

Authored by Darrell Porcello, Catherine McCarthy, and Rae Ostman (2017)



Year created

Developed for the NISE Network with funding from the National Science Foundation under Award Numbers 0532536 and 0940143. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this product are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

Owning institution

Science Museum of Minnesota


Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 3.0 United States (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US).
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Development Process

NISE Network products are developed through an iterative collaborative process that includes scientific review, peer review, and visitor evaluation in accordance with an inclusive audiences approach. Products are designed to be easily edited and adapted for different audiences under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license. To learn more, visit our Development Process page.