Save the Fuzzies!!

The project that I chose to explore was Fuzzy Chronicles: Newtonian Dynamics (ID: 14445).  This is a physics lesson aimed at students grades 9-12 and requires about 4-5 hours to complete.  I was drawn to this project particularly for a couple reasons.  First, the layout is like a space mission where you have to watch tutorials, play missions to try and navigate spaceships through obstacles in order to save Fuzzies, and complete multiple choice responses to check your understanding.  I was also intrigued how this project was different than many of the others I explored as it was completely based in Flash.  In the editor view for this project I was completely overwhelmed because, unlike some of the other projects, the different steps were not discrete and pages didn’t completely reload.  Nevertheless I explored this project and did notice changes I would make in order to improve the overall experience.  I did also explore Investigating Planetary Motion and Seasons (ID: 20964) in order to become familiar with what the editor view looked like in a more traditional lesson; text, images and other media could be manipulated directly allowing for a lot of flexibility.

Flash allowed The Fuzzy Chronicles a unique approach to teaching Newtonian Dynamics through a game; With this platform also came some challenges.  The lessons and tutorials all ran on a loop and were not able to be paused which to me seemed a bit fast.  I found I had to watch a lesson at least three times to get all of the information I needed – I would add the functionality to break each lesson into smaller bits and then either replay, or move on to the next section.  Further, I would supplement the mini-lessons with a question period or additional explanation on the course content; For a physics 11 student, the pace may be correct, but science 9 or 10 (or even younger) would require a little bit more explanation.  For the multiple choice knowledge checks at the end of each mission, more feedback is required.  Hattie and Timperley (2007) state that student feedback is most effective when it notifies the student where they can improve and how the error may have occurred as opposed to just praise or consequences.  If a student gets the question right or wrong, some meaningful feedback needs to be provided.  

Finally, in the spirit of inquiry, I would add functionality to the game that would allow students to simply play through all the missions without having to view the lessons – once students mastered the game, coming back to explore the theory behind it could provide very meaningful and deep learning.

I’ve included a link in case any of you want to check the game out!  

 

Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/stable/4624888

Linn, M. C. (07/01/2003). Science education (salem, mass.): WISE design for knowledge integration John Wiley & Sons Inc.

8 comments

  1. Hi. Game based learning is a great way to engage students in curricular competencies and big ideas. This activity reminds me of the Jasper Series as it sounds like a mission that involves a problem that students will need to solve, including videos and tasks. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Baljeet

    I like the fact that you brought up Flash. I believe Flash is now old technology and not used very much anymore — due to the fact it does not work on mobile devices. The simulations are now using HTML5.

    I wonder if these simulations could have different levels — one for junior students and one for senior students.

    A good next step might be is to find out if students that played through would actually come back and learn the content.

    Christopher

    1. Hi Christoper,

      It is challenging when I come across certain games in flash on devices such as iPads (our school has a few classroom sets) and it renders them almost useless. Nathan mentioned earlier in the discussion forums that there is a browser call “puffin” that will allow Flash and Java to run on mobile. I haven’t tried it out yet, but worth a shot.

      Baljeet

  3. Hey Baljeet,

    Great post. Who doesn’t like saving fuzzies? As Chris has already mentioned, the Flash dependency is another reminder that these resources are not as robust as some of the older technologies we’ve come across (like books). I found this sort of glitch in about half of the WISE projects I checked out. While I wouldn’t call for a return to textbooks by any stretch of the imagination, I yearn for the day where technology is a bit more streamline. It will make it easier to focus on teaching and designing!

    On a second point, I love your idea to have the students just play the game all the way through first–no lessons. I am considering doing something similar with my students next year. At the start of longer projects, they will spend a couple of periods just tinkering with parts without any structured lessons or mandated research. I’m going to call it “rapid prototyping”, even if that isn’t the proper use of the term. My hope is that they will play, discover a bunch of things informally and get the creative juices flowing. Perhaps it will be easier to introduce vocabulary and concepts if they have a sense of what parameters are involved.

    Mike

    1. Hi Mike,

      Thanks for the comment. In my marketing class I was playing the simulation by Junior Achievement called Titan. The scenario is you are selling a fictional product called the Hologenerator and can make numerous business decisions that will impact how many you can sell. Although we had learned much of the theory in the class already, we didn’t explicitly speak about it in terms of the simulation. Letting the students work through a quick game was a great experience for the students (and also me). I am confident they experienced deeper learning when they had a chance to make mistake and work through their knowledge and attempt to apply it.

      Good luck trying this with your class in September! I am sure it will go great!

      Baljeet

  4. I too like the fact that you mentioned the game should be played without lessons. Would it be more beneficial to play the game first without lessons, or after the lessons? Also, this is a great example of game-based learning. I wonder if it would have the same effect for learners if this included gamification? ie) rewards or badges the students can earn? Great post.

    1. Hi Sean,

      Thanks for the comment. I think it would be great to play the game before the lessons. It allows students to be reminded of how physics plays out in real life (in space, saving fuzzies) and then they learn the theory behind it. I would say this would be similar to my son learning the physics behind Angry Birds. He is only 4 but he clearly understands how the birds move and interact with their environment and when he is ready (still a few years away haha), learning the math behind it will make much more sense.

      Baljeet

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