Published May 19, 2020
Teaching on Twitch: This Grad Mixes Gaming and Science
D'Juan Irvin's passion for teaching and games makes for a unique, streaming take on STEM education.
D'Juan Irvin loves what he does. As a full-time streamer and Shorty Awards nominee, D'Juan (better known as Deejay Knight) isn't just a gamer. He's equal parts entertainer and educator, and he's constantly finding new ways to combine the two.
D'Juan graduated with a degree in Digital Media in 2005 and then returned to Full Sail in 2013 to pursue another degree in Digital Arts & Design. He even taught as both a lab specialist and a course director in Full Sail's Game Design and Digital Media programs. "I really enjoy teaching, so I taught at Full Sail for seven years," he says with a laugh. "The opportunity to teach people is a great one."
One of his preferred methods of teaching isn't necessarily through lecture, but often unorthodox means that have a deeper impact. "One of my favorite things is throwing out something that might teach somebody something that they wouldn't expect."
An avid science-fiction buff, D'Juan frequently jumps into the world of Star Citizen to not only discuss the mechanics of the game, but the science and physics behind the creation the game's universe. "I love Star Citizen from the aspect of understanding how game development works," he says. "They have an entire star system to scale."
D'Juan combines his love of comedy and gaming into an educational hybrid that has become one of the staples of his channel.
"I teach people regularly during the streams," he says. "I've found that people learn easier when there's joy or a joke."
This love of learning through laughter has blended seamlessly with D'Juan's work with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an robotics group dedicated to encouraging and providing young people the tools to learn and engage in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering. As a host and partner with FIRST, D'Juan gets to see first hand how young minds are able to turn science fiction into science fact through competitions that push their creative limits with the creation of fully functional robots.
"The excitement is palpable, you can hear the enthusiasm, and the cheering is crazy," he says about the FIRST Championship he hosted. "They have made STEM a sport."
Through his work with the organization, D'Juan has become a champion for young minds reaching heights beyond the stars – a position that he views as a great privilege despite his demanding full-time schedule.
"The town that I grew up in didn't have a lot of STEM-focused careers," he says. "It became less of a situation of responsibility and more ‘of course I want to be involved with this.'"
Now, having hosted several robotics competitions, robot kit reviews, and even the first-ever behind the scenes tour of an Amazon Fulfillment Center's robotic processes, D'Juan's unique approach to teaching is showing no signs of slowing down.
"Hosting [a stream] is not too much different than standing in front of a class of people," he says. "It's just, there are cameras."