While completing my Master Degree at Full Sail, the class that I dreaded the most was Game Strategies and Motivation. I’m not a big gamer… I’m afraid of the addiction, however, I have gotten over the fear and used some games this year in the classroom that created great success in a few Student Expectations in Science.
Spore is one of the games that I have loaded on the student computers to simulate everything from ecosystems to adaptation. With this game, you create a creature that you take through various stages of survival. You can add traits to your creature to make it a canivore, herbivore or omivore and then teach it to adapt to the different environments that you encounter along the way. As the environments are affected by outside variables, your creature evolves and has to adapt to the changes that are taking place while avoiding predators and consumers. Therefore, you have to teach your creature certain skills in order to compete to avoid extinction. It’s a really cool game that goes on and on and can be set up in stations around the classroom. However, the lesson in adaptation becomes a real-life experience for the students…virtually that is!
Another game that I used this year was Angry Birds to teach force and motion. You’ve all played it, but I used it to demonstrate how speed and trajectory impacts force along with what happens when force is acted upon either by another force or the impediment of another object. I used my iPad…well my wife’s at the time to project the game on the Promethean Board and the kids were so engaged. Not only did they have fun, but if I recall correctly, the questions on the Benchmark dealing with force were answered 100% correctly by all my students.
Which leads me to another game I briefly played in class, Cut The Rope. Now, are these questions that keeps floating around like the one above and some of my students were having a difficult time conceptualizing the proper response. So, I once again allowed them to play a game on the iPad, once again hooked up to the projector. Thy physics involved in the question is duplicated throughout Cut The Rope and by playing, students were able to problem solve the question and later, easily visualize how to go about answering the questions.
I know that here in Texas, we don’t have time for “fun and games”, but in order for this generation to obtain continued success, we have to change what we do and meet them where they are. It works for me.