“This is really, really great for the National Parks System. I mean, the kids are all saying now, “Wow, we want to go to Mesa Verde and see this in person!” They are getting really excited about the protected places in America. In order for them to understand why it’s important to save historical places, such as Mesa Verde, the kids really have to have a sense of being there. Here they get to experience it, how it looks and its feels, and this is a huge step forward for that.” - 5th grade teacher
“I think originally they got caught up with the fact that Mesa Verde is a real place they could visit, on earth somewhere. It was later when they got into the mission of Mesa Verde that it got even better; that they realized, “Oh Wow! We get to go back in time!” – 7th grade teacher
“They are really excited about the time shift element; that was the big excitement, when that happened. This is such an amazing shift of environment, with some things familiar and some things different; I mean, they can see it is the same spot in Mesa Verde, but clearly in a different time period. That was really exciting.” – 5th grade teacher
“The sense of immersion is amazing! It’s like taking them on a field trip. They really get the sense of size and grandeur of the place. This isn’t a museum-sized place; it’s huge, and there are canyons, and cliffs, and ruins, and ladders to climb, and here’s their crops. The sense of time, place, and history is a HUGE abstract concept for the kids to get, and only in a site like this can they experience something that profound. I, as a teacher, can’t create that!” – 5th grade teacher
“The kids really got into Mesa Verde because it was a mission; it had a story behind it. They really love the stories, they love the drama.” – 7th Grade teacher.
"Where, in the classroom, they are more likely to wait for one of their peers, or for us, to give them the information. In games they are more likely to explore. They had to figure out things themselves, and they did that, and were really successful. They went a step ahead of what they usually do; each one took the problem on, and really critically analyzed the situation. They figured it out themselves." – 7th Grade teacher.
"I think it put the kids into a position of power and authority. They couldn’t just get the answers for us, as teachers. And this taught us teachers something also; we tend to be overly generous in giving the students answers, and maybe we shouldn’t. What we saw here is that they can figure it out on their own, and they weren’t overly frustrated; they were happy and very eager to keep working at it. They didn’t quit!" – 7th Grade teacher.
"The kids were really motivated by going back in time and seeing how people lived back then. There was always somebody who was a little ahead, and sharing little tidbits of what was to come. The kids would get so excited, and want to get to that stage, to see what came next. It was incredibly motivating to the kids." – 7th Grade teacher.
"They would go home and log on and do this on their own for hours each night." – 5th Grade teacher.
Interview with a 7th Grade teacher:
"They definitely learned a lot through reading, writing and problem solving, which are always huge parts of it. Using the facts that they learned from the world, and using that to explain to someone else, is really critical at this age because a lot of them do not have the schema to respond to writing prompts: they just don’t know the information to give. With these games they are able to gather the information and use it, and feel really good about what they are writing."
"They refer to it, as if it is a real place, Mesa Verde and the other worlds. They talk about it at lunch like an actual destination where they’ve been passing their time and hanging out. They don’t reference it like a computer game."
"I think originally they got caught up with the fact that Mesa Verde is a real place they could visit, on earth somewhere. They could learn about first, and if they got really excited about it, maybe they could visit it later."
"One of them even said to me, “Wouldn’t this be cool if we had this for all our units?” You’re always making comments about how much you wish you could take us back in time to see history, but that a time machine doesn’t exist. Well, now it does!” And I thought, yes, this is really the only way for them to ever experience history. Hint, hint! Can I give you a list of all our units we want?"
"They are even talking about sensory words, like how good that sandal would feel on their feet, and how it probably won’t be very comfortable to wear because it is made of yucca. The experience is never talked about from the 3rd person as an observer. It always happens quickly in these worlds, but it’s particularly strong in this one. They aren’t observing it, they are living it."