The National Academy Press recently released this review of and plan for research on the use of simulations and games for enhancing the learning of science, technology, engineering and math.
I tried to use the NetLogo simulation of Ants (http://ccl.northwestern.edu/netlogo/models/Ants ) to help MAMS ITeam members understand our need for more structure and feedback on their work. We had some challenges in getting the right version of NetLogo (the MLTI image contains regular, hubnet, and 3-D versions that students found). The tool did not engage them in the way that I had hoped despite my effort to connect it with an authentic challenge we face together. But maybe it is my challenge rather than one they perceive to be their challenge, too.