A team of educational researchers, scientists, and engineers from NC State University, UNC Chapel Hill, and Duke University are partnering with teachers and administrators from Durham County Schools, Lee County Schools, the NC Business Committee for Education, and an international gaming company to pilot GRADUATE (Games Requiring Advanced Developmental Understanding and Achievement in Technological Endeavors). The project builds a model based on the evaluation results of a current ITEST grant (HI FIVES) and targets 40 teachers and 100 disadvantaged rural and urban students from two redesigned "New Tech" high schools. The focus is on creating STEM-related games and investigates the effects of student-created games on their attitudes towards STEM subjects, achievement in learning content, and motivation to enter STEM careers. GRADUATE is unique in how it involves a very coherent systematic approach combined with a thorough and well-organized evaluation plan.
The student created games stem from scientific research and serve as the product and presentation components to the newly implemented North Carolina graduation requirements. Because of this integration into the curriculum, the project helps retain students through HI FIVES and into high school, thereby addressing a serious concern with the North Carolina high school drop out rate.