STEM Engagement with the Data Game!

Cody striving for higher CO2 levels!


One of the great challenges we face as educators each and every time we work with a student is engagement.  What will it take to get a student interested in the topic at hand, whether it is computer science, social studies, math, science – we all share the same challenge,  get them interested! In pursuit of this engagement objective, we ran a contest earlier this year where we queried educators how they would use databot and all of its capabilities. We received a landslide of over 300 entries.  Here is the blog entry on that great event with many of these ideas outlined.

databot - Revolutionize STEM education

One of the best ideas proposed by one of our participants was “the Data Game” a simple gamification concept and framework that can be applied in a variety of ways with databot.  You essentially make a fun and challenging game out of acquiring, visualizing, or analyzing data. We recently put this concept into practice at the California Science Teachers Association conference in San Jose and had an awesome time working with science teachers to introduce them to databot.   The incentive was a free databot kit for whoever came out on top in this challenge.

California Science Teachers Compete for Greatness!

The Challenge


Using all your scientific skills, deliver the highest possible CO2 concentration to databot’s on board air quality CO2 sensor.  You will have one try to deliver your CO2 and your data will be captured in a 15 second recording on Google Science Journal.

Playing the Game

This simple challenge forms the foundation of a great “data game” – if you look at the wording of the rules, they are very open ended and can be interpreted in different ways.  This is one of the fun aspects of this particular challenge since it adds a twist of creativity to interpreting the rules. Others may be more concrete and specific.

The response to this particular challenge was remarkable.  Science teachers were breathing on databot while down on the floor, theorizing that CO2 is more dense than air so the levels would be higher down low.  Science teachers were doing jumping jacks and a variety of unique breathing techniques and breath holding displays. One of the most memorable visuals was a particularly creative teacher donning a bag on her had and filling it with CO2.

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Science and Planning Prevail

Alberts DropJPG

The best technical effort by far went to a teacher from a nearby private school who confirmed there was no rule that said he couldn’t come back the next day and compete.  He came back the next morning with vinegar, baking soda, and a bag to capture the CO2 he produced. We lowered databot carefully into the cauldron and he maxed our sensor out at 60,000 PPM – an outstanding demonstration of science and problem solving!  Albert’s class is going to have a lot of fun with databot in the coming school year.  This is one outstanding teacher. 

databot fully immersed in a dense cloud of CO2.

What Have We Learned from Playing Around?

What are some of the learning objectives that result from a gamified challenge like this one?

  1. A units of measure for gases is Parts Per Million (PPM).
  2. We exhale CO2.
  3. We can control how much CO2 we exhale if we understand how our body processes Oxygen and produces CO2.
  4. CO2 is more dense than air, it settles.
  5. We have the ability to combine substances to create a new product, in this case, CO2


For more in-depth analysis, this experiment provides a good jumping off point for a number of additional investigations, and the engagement generated by the gamification of a simple challenge can help drive those investigations.

We’re working on a new challenge for science teachers for an upcoming conference.  We’ll let you know how it goes! If you have ideas for a great data game challenge using databot, please contact us and let us know.  We’ll publish it for all to share and enjoy!


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About the Author

Robert Grover is a proponent of STEAM education and educational technology that helps engage and develop the students of today into the thoughtful leaders of tomorrow.