Lunacon 2014 (2d): Gamification in Education

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Saturday 2 PM

I sort of felt obligated to go to this panel (and the one on The Future of Education), seeing that I am a teacher and all.

It was OK.  The title proved to be inaccurate: This was more about the use of existing games in a school setting.  Gamification usually refers to adopting the tropes of gameplay — varying difficulty, badges and other rewards, etc. — for use in education.   Instead, the panelists related how they had used games to advance their classes.  Two of the three panelists work (at least part time) for companies that make educational games, so that wasn’t too surprising.

While sitting there I thought up a game I might use in covering diffusion:

  • Start with a grid grouped into larger boxes (I’m thinking a 21×21 grid, divided into 3×3 boxes).
  • In some of the boxes, place pennies to represent molecules of gas.
  • Every turn, for every penny, roll 1d8 and move accordingly along a cardinal direction.
    • If the target square is occupied, the moving penny stops and does not enter.  Instead, the other penny moves in the direction indicated.
    • Pennies that hit the edge of the grid bounce back.
    • As a variant, give the pennies two speeds, based on the heads/tails status.
      • heads = moving; tails = stopped
      • A moving penny hitting a stopped penny itself stops.  The hit penny moves off.
      • A moving penny hitting a moving penny bounces back (in the opposite direction) and is stopped.  The hit penny is also stopped.
    • Using the larger boxes allows you to compute density variations.

Two quips about using games:

  • Magic: The Gathering is a good introduction to business strategy and resource management.
  • AD&D is “hours of improv comedy with an algebra test in the middle”.  😀

Games mentioned

  • Compounded: A game about the periodic table
  • Phylomon: a Pokemon-type collectible card game about ecology
  • Bio Blitz
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