Earthworks Interactive

Newark’s 2,000-year-old Octagon Earthworks consist of a 50-acre octagon, connected to a 20-acre circle by two parallel walls. A rounded rectangular Observatory Mound stands along the outer rim of the circle opposite the octagonal enclosure. These earthworks are a testament to the architectural and engineering skill of the American Indian cultures of that time. Photo courtesy of Dan Campbell

Art Education Professor Christine Ballengee-Morris’s grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) will fund the development of a Flash-based game for children to help them learn about the Native American mounds in Newark, Ohio.

"We want to develop a fun, user-friendly game for students to learn part of Ohio history that’s not in their school books," Ballengee-Morris said.

“We want to focus on fourth graders, who are already studying Ohio history, and provide a different perspective than they’re getting from their history books,” Ballengee-Morris said. “The computerized, interactive game will help them explore the mounds, find clues, and answer questions such as, ‘How were the mounds built?’ ‘Who lived there?’ ‘Why were they built?,’ and ‘What do the stars and moon have to do with them?’”

Ballengee-Morris, who has extensive expertise in Native American representation and identity, is teaming up with former Ohio State student Michelle Aubrecht, a researcher in game development, to lead the project.
Other team members include representatives from the Newark Earthworks Center, Ohio Valley Archaeology, University of Cincinnati, a chief of the Eastern Shawnee, a science consultant, and others.

Ballengee-Morris thinks that it will take a year to refine the idea and develop content for the game; she expects to have a prototype in design by the end of summer 2012.