Digital Humanities: Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants

Period of Performance

9/1/2011 - 10/31/2012

Funding Totals

$49,990.00 (approved)
$49,600.80 (awarded)

Meeting the Earthworks Builders: A flash-based video game

FAIN: HD-51348-11

Ohio State University (Columbus, OH 43210-1349)
Christine Ballengee Morris (Project Director: March 2011 to September 2013)
Michelle Aubrecht (Co Project Director: March 2011 to September 2013)

The development of an educational computer game targeted to grades 4 - 8 about American Indian earthworks, building on the scholarship of John Hancock's NEH-funded EarthWorks project.

We propose to create a video game about Earthwork Builder Culture for school-age children in grades 4 through 8. In the past, the Earthwork Builder Culture has been poorly addressed in student learning materials. Current understanding and portrayal of American Indians remains largely stereotypical. This game will be developed using content generated by scientists, academics, educators, and American Indians. This approach will ensure that the native voice will be incorporated into the subject content areas, interface, game mechanics and artwork. Educational video games are a multimodal form of student engagement using visual images, animation, sound, text, and navigation/ interface design elements that engage students and allow them to make decisions and choices, developing problem solving skills and systems thinking. This medium will allow us to communicate profound aspects of American Indian thought through player interaction and the juxtaposition of graphical information.

Media Coverage

Meet the Earthworks Builders (Review)
Author(s): New Media Consortium
Publication: Horizon Report K-12, 2012
Date: 1/1/2012
Abstract: 2012 horizon report - k12, p. 24

Associated Products

Meet the Earthworks Builders (Blog Post)
Title: Meet the Earthworks Builders
Author: several people
Author: Michelle Aubrecht
Abstract: This is the project development blog. Activities related to the project are posted here. We post images from meetings, researching the movement of the moon, and other images as seem relevant to the project.
Date: 12/02/2011
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Project Development Blog

Meet the Earthworks Builders (Report)
Title: Meet the Earthworks Builders
Author: Michelle Aubrecht
Abstract: cited by the Horizon Project Navigator (in beta). It appears in the 2012 Horizon Report. It links to our project development blog.
Date: 2/26/2012
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: This section of Navigator is the entryway to the extensive listings of vetted projects exploring uses of emerging technologies contained in the Horizon Project data set — easily the largest database of its kind in the world. Multiple avenues and tools are provided for searching — a sophisticated map interface, keywords, regions, technology, and much more. Multiple search terms are permitted, but keep in mind that the more search criteria used, the smaller the resultant set will be. To submit a new project to the data set, click on the Contribute Content link below.
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: Meet the Earthworks Builders, tagged with game-based learning, higher education sector

Game making and STEM challenge (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Game making and STEM challenge
Abstract: Kelly Partin, Coordinator of Educational Services for the Tucker Center for Telecommunications at Bowling Green State University, (which is part of WBGU TV Public Television) asked me to talk to middle and high school students attending an event at BGU. These were students who were gathered to learn how to compete in the National STEM Video Game Challenge, game design competition. see more here: I talked about making games and described our process and showed them what we've done so far.
Author: Michelle Aubrecht
Date: 2/14/2012
Location: Bowling Green State University

Earthworks Builders (Web Resource)
Title: Earthworks Builders
Author: Peter Gerstmann
Abstract: project website - the latest version of the game is posted here.
Year: 2012
Primary URL:

poster (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: poster
Author: Larissa Borcz
Author: Michelle Aubrecht
Author: Christine Ballengee Morris
Author: Jonathan Diehl
Abstract: Even though video games have been around for over 40 years, employing them as viable learning environments is relatively new. In the last few years, many people have begun researching games and learning: how to make them, use them, and assess what is happening when learners use them. With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, we utilized a consulting collaborative approach, created a Native American Advisory Board, made a prototype, 2D mini-game that focuses on the Newark Earthworks in Ohio, USA as a lunar observatory, and obtained additional funding to create an affinity space (Gee, 2012). This poster presents the 2D mini games that will be part of a larger game that demonstrates the moon's monthly cycle as it is observed at the Newark Earthworks, a world heritage nominated site. We will explain our learning objectives, design process, and how games teach. The Earthworks spans several kilometers. The Earthworks Octagon precisely tracks the northernmost moonrise; Building something that is seemingly focused on an event that occurs only every 18.6 years is striking! In addition, that’s just one section of the Earthworks. What were they doing every 18.6 years that would lead them to construct such an enormous structure? We think that exploring this structure and the culture of ancient Native Americans, learners will be inspired to learn more about astronomy and begin observing the moon themselves. Demo and Poster I would like to have my computer run a demo of the 2D mini game and hang a poster. In additional we will have a link to our website (currently in development).
Date: 05/09/2013
Primary URL:

A Video Game Connecting The Earth, The Moon And The Past... (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: A Video Game Connecting The Earth, The Moon And The Past...
Author: Michelle Aubrecht
Author: Christine Ballengee-Morris
Abstract: Understanding the Newark Earthworks as a lunar observatory through game play is the objective of this learning game funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Through this game, our intention is to prompt people to revisit their beliefs about these structures and the people who built them. This is a cross-disciplinary, collaborative project in development. This poster will document the collaborative process, game development to date, and be accompanied by a computer, offering viewers the opportunity to play the game. poster presentation
Date: 04/12/2012
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Transform Teaching with Technology, Innovate conference at Ohio State University, 2012
Conference Name: Innovate, Ohio State University

Meet the Earthworks Builders Video Game (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Meet the Earthworks Builders Video Game
Author: Dan Norton
Author: Michelle Aubrecht
Author: Peter Gerstmann
Author: Tyler Ayres
Abstract: Concept Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Meet the Earthworks Builders is about understanding the Newark Earthworks as a lunar observatory.
Date: 06/13/2012
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: participated in the Educational Game Arcade
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: proceedings, 2 page description of the project.
Conference Name: Games+Learing+Society

eARThworks: Digital Games in Contemporary American Indian Art, Pedagogy, and Research. Reston, VA: NAEA (Article)
Title: eARThworks: Digital Games in Contemporary American Indian Art, Pedagogy, and Research. Reston, VA: NAEA
Author: Ballengee-Morris, C. & Staikidis, K.
Abstract: The chapter describes the significance of earthworks from a visual arts emphasis and utilizing an Indigenous Ways of Knowing methodology and theoretical frameworks. The digital game about the earthworks within the HASTAC funded website: http:www// is introduced and initial findings are explored.
Year: 2016
Primary URL:
Format: Other
Publisher: National Art Education Association