Bilyeu’s passion for STEAM comes from his ability to relate
By Sarah Slavik
August 24, 2006
ATHENS, Ohio Bruce Bilyeu, 22, often found himself glued to his computer or television playing video or computer games in Barnesville, Ohio. He says that there wasnt much else to do growing up in a small town. And homework? That ranked well below eating brussel sprouts at the dinner table. Thats why Bruce is so anxious to dig in and help middle school students with science and math related concepts through the use of interactive learning tools, or video games, with the STEAM project.
Because Bilyeu can remember being in a similar situation, he is excited for the opportunities that STEAM offers to the students of local schools. He says that he can relate to the limited choice of entertainment and lack of motivation to do homework that most children growing up in Appalachia experience. When presented with a choice between homework and video games, most kids choose video games, so this could be a good compromise. I stayed home to play video games, so I think I would have taken advantage of this situation if it was offered.
Bilyeu has experience programming unique and fun educational games. For example, his work in building a website for the Multicultural Genealogical Center (MGC) lead him to design a take-off of the board game Clue within a virtual MGC house, as shown in Picture 1. The MGC collects various documents from the Ohio valley area about deaths, births, and marriages and they plan on placing and organizing them throughout the house they just acquired. In the game, instead of a murder taking place, documents relevant to the MGC (birth, marriage and death certificates among other things) are hidden throughout the MGC house as seen in Picture 2. While players are having fun solving the mysteries in the game, they are also able to navigate through the house, exploring what the MGC has to offer.
Bilyeu has already begun to use his programming talents to design an Interactive Lab for STEAM. The lab will feature a number of stations where students can interact with each other and the materials in a digital lab format. The first station that he designed (picture 3) involves the use of the scientific method in determining the solubility of sugar in hot versus cold water. It requires students to develop a hypothesis before measuring out the sugar (picture 4) and timing its dissolution (picture 5). He says that the key lessons to be learned from the experiment are developing a hypothesis, consistency in measuring and accurate timing.
Bilyeu sees the collaboration between Ohio University and area schools as an obvious and natural use of resources. It isnt that hard for us to make games, its what we like to do. Now, the schools can use our capabilities so that the students are exposed to new opportunities. Bilyeu hopes that teachers will want to be a part of bringing the latest technology into their classroom.