Prisma is the world’s most engaging virtual school that combines a fun, real-world curriculum with powerful mentorship from experienced coaches and a supportive peer community
An online, immersive gaming platform with over 50 million users worldwide, Roblox is available for PC, mac, mobile devices and XBOX. Roblox — like Minecraft — uses a sandbox concept in designing its games: games are more experiential than goal-oriented, so they lend themselves to social interactions. Users create a personal avatar, move around virtual worlds, chat with strangers and friends, and buy and sell things with a currency known as ‘robux.’
But unlike Minecraft, Roblox is not the game. It’s the platform. That means users have access to over 40 million video games — created by other users like themselves for Roblox — games that could be low or high-quality, harmless or explicit, educational or mind-numbing.
Popular games include, “Adopt Me,” where players walk around different rooms as they try to get the latest and greatest pet. In “Work at a Pizza Place” — as the name suggests — users get to buy and sell pies, working at the counter, as a chef or delivery person. Many of these games offer in-app purchases, which means your playing experience will be limited if you don’t spend robux to get the fancier features.
Like all social platforms with user-generated content, Roblox is incredibly open-ended, which makes it hard to answer, “Is Roblox educational?” with a straight yes or no: While it could be a place to have educational experiences and healthy social interactions, left unattended it’s just as easy for a kid to use it to play mindless video games and stumble on adult content. There are parental controls, as we discuss below, but if you want to be sure your child is using Roblox as an educational program, you’ll have to stay fairly involved - or access it through one of the educational organizations that is partnering with the platform.
When users create an account in Roblox, they customize an avatar (that looks like a LEGO minifigure). They can choose to visit a variety of worlds, play thousands of games, and engage in immersive experiences — anything that is a part of the ever-growing, user-created library, currently 40 million items and growing.
Although Roblox is free to install, upgrades — like special avatars — are available to purchase individually or through a subscription option that ranges from $5 to $20 per month. When users create their own Roblox games, they also have the option to monetize them and earn robux from others.
Promoted as a fun way to learn coding, Roblox offers a building tool, Roblox Studio, where users learn to code in Lua, Roblox’s programming language. In this learning environment, programmers from novice to advanced can learn game design as they create and test their experiences before taking them live.
Recently, Roblox has committed to developing the educational aspect, turning its eye — as with Minecraft — towards the world of game-based learning.
Some of its initiatives include:
So, when faced with a child, extending their iPad and pleading, “Can I play Roblox?” any number of things could happen if you say yes: they could get a crash course in computer science or they could spend the afternoon chatting with strangers in the metaverse while being tempted to buy the latest pet through in-game purchases.
There is no minimum age to make a Roblox account. Although certain features — such as voice chat — are not available until age 13, a savvy kid could figure out how to bypass this requirement.
As with all open-ended platforms, kids who use Roblox could encounter adult content, end up chatting with strangers, or attempt to make purchases — issues that are addressed with parental controls.
While these controls can help parents keep kids away from explicit virtual worlds, it won’t necessarily help ensure that all the games they choose are high quality, let alone educational. It also won’t guarantee that kids won’t experience cyberbullying in one of the worlds they’re exploring.
When designing learning experiences at Prisma, we are “education-first” in our choice of games. That means our 4-8th grade and high school curriculum incorporates learning games, such as those listed below, rather than “fun-first” games such as Minecraft and Roblox. (Although we do offer learners the opportunity to use Minecraft for showcasing their learning as well as for extra-curricular hangouts with fellow Prismarians).
Education-first games that are popular with the whole Prisma community (educators, parents and learners alike!) include:
Recommended coding programs include:
Recommended 3D modeling tools include:
Roblox can absolutely be used as an educational tool. For kids who are reluctant to learn coding but already love Roblox, Roblox Studio can be a great way to get them to give it a try. The allure of monetization can be a powerful motivator for business-minded kids, who appreciate the opportunity (however minuscule) to get paid for their work. However, this comes with an equally powerful downside: It’s truly difficult to make real money on Roblox, and researchers have raised concerns about the potential for exploitation of kids who don’t understand the reality of the proposition.
Roblox is making a concerted effort to position itself as an educational tool. However, with all the potential distractions, you’ll have to carefully monitor your children’s usage in order to make sure they are using Roblox in the way you’re hoping (or consider using it through a reputable organization that incorporates it into their curriculum).
Looking for an example of a hands-on STEM projects that can be easily implemented at home?
A fun STEM project is coding your own game in Scratch. Scratch is a free block-coding platform that runs in your browser. Kids can use drag-and-drop code to customize their own games and share them with kids around the world. There’s no setup; start building your game right away!
To start building a game, kids can follow a Scratch tutorial, remix a game that already exists, or just experiment on their own. If kids need inspiration, they can see hundreds of games in Scratch projects or simply replicate an existing game. For example, kids should try coding a tic-tac-toe game in Scratch.
There are also unplugged coding activities that kids can do at home. These free worksheets use games and puzzles to learn about coding concepts like algorithms, ASCII codes, and bubble sorting. These are a good introduction to metacognition, problem-solving, and abstract thinking. You can also find additional worksheets for specific languages, topics, and ages.
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“I've seen growth in my kids, and most importantly a solid relationship between them and their coaches. We feel so grateful for these amazing humans that have entered our kids' lives. My kids' words exactly: ‘These teachers actually want to be here. They really care!’ ” -Katie M., Parent in Kimberly’s Cohort
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“I’m so happy to have an opportunity to call out Javi. As a math educator myself I am really impressed with how he presents math concepts, differentiates for and challenges learners as needed. From a social-emotional perspective he is so kind, patient and invested in the kids as a whole. I am so happy he is Brynn’s math coach.” -Chandra S., Prisma parent
The ability to tolerate frustration is not merely about weathering the storm of the moment, but about instilling the persistence, adaptability, and resilience that set your child up for future success.
“We are eternally grateful for Prisma and the wonderful people who work there - especially the coaches - whose patience and expertise make our kids feel seen and heard and loved while also coaching them to learn knowledge and skills.” -Ashley S., Parent in Angie’s cohort
We are thrilled to announce that Prisma has earned accreditation from the Cognia Global Education Commission.
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“Despite Levi’s frustrations with science in the past, he had the most ambitious projects for Anne’s class. I love that she was able to inspire him!” -Joy J., Prisma parent
“Cindy is AMAZING! I’m so blown away by her accommodations, reprioritizing Parker’s to do lists, and always providing tons of encouragement. I’m knocked off my socks everytime I overhear her doing anything, really.” -Priscilla W., Prisma Parent
The first big surprise for me was the amazing team I would get to help me. I didn’t feel so alone when it came to supporting my kids' academic education.
“Natalie is so amazing and Karl has become very close with her. This year has seen Karl expand in his learning very much." -Anna H., Prisma parent
“Gwyn has been so wonderful to Jack. She is so relatable and authentic and really kind. She immediately bonded with him, and has really given him the freedom to be creative and take risks. She has made education and the whole "school experience" a safe place for him. With her support and encouragement, she has really made him thrive.” -Wren W., Prisma parent
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