I have recently acquired an Xbox 360 for the science faculty at my school. I’ve always been an enthuaistic gamer (more into Nintendo games like Zelda) and have been investigating games based learning for a while and was deciding whether to try out the Xbox, PS3 or Wii in the classroom. But then an Xbox 360 was handed to me!
My Year 10 class are studying Newton’s laws of motion at the moment. I liked the idea of using commercial games to support learning rather than using educational games. I came up with the idea of using a car racing game for students to learn about Newton’s laws. They will work in small groups where the gameplay will be recorded, then imported into a video editing software and add text annotations to explain the motion of the race car using Newton’s laws. Their end product should be something similar to this.
Now that the activity is in place, the next step was to find the most appropriate game. I tried out Need for Speed Shift as it came free with the Xbox console. While the graphics were awesome and the game gave a “real driver experience”, the game took too long to load and there were too much of the storyline to get through before you could play the game. I needed to get my whole class playing the game in two to three lessons and Need for Speed Shift just takes too long.
The next game I tried was Formula 1 2010. The initial game set-up took a while (choosing teams, driver names, etc), but once that’s done, you can just race around a grand-prix track in one or three laps – perfect for students in the classroom. After spending a weekend trying out all the tracks, I worked out that Melbourne and Montreal were the easiest. I might get all the kids to be Mark Weber and race in Melbourne just to be patriotic!
All I’ve got to do now is to actually implement the activity, which will be in two days time. All equipment are set, activity sheets (Xbox project newtons laws_wordpress) are done, other teachers have been trained, and one of the deputy principals will be visiting to see how it goes. Wish me luck!
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Hi, I really enjoyed you refelections on trying new approaches to engage students in science learning. I work at the Australian Science and Mathematics school and am interested in your approach to engaging students. Do you have any comment on curriculum frameworks which encourage teachers and students to experiment with game based technologies? I read your comment about 21st century learning. The work of Daniel Pink resonates with me but I have not yet found a writer or organization which has adopted the sythetic, contextual, metaphorical and aesthetic concept and worked that into a learner framework.