How to Use Games to Juice up Science Lessons

Tammie Schrader was never a gamer. But one day in a middle school science class she assigned a game on plant cells to her students to help them review the concepts. One student, a “really bright kid” who would typically “pick and choose” what he would work on, came into class the next day and handed her a thumb drive. On it was a version of a Nintendo Mario game intended to do the same thing. When a learner wanted Mario to jump up to grab a coin, he or she would first have to answer a plant question. If the answer was right, the student would get the coin; if not, he or she “would fall through the tube.” Schrader was impressed enough with the student’s hack that she put it on her interactive whiteboard to share with the class. All day long, she found, “kids wanted to play this game.” Soon, students from other classes were coming in before and after class and during lunch and asking if they could try it out too.

It didn’t take long for Schrader to call her principal in to see the results. The message: “OK, so I’m not meeting the needs of my kids. Even though I don’t use games, they do, and I think we need to start leveraging it.”

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