Episode 88: What is smaller than a Big Mac?

Welcome to another episode of the Cool Teacher Podcast. In today’s podcast, Chris tells us about his love affair with Apple TV, Barbara tells us about her experience so far with a MOOC, Learning Creative Learning from the MIT Medialab, and we answer a question from one of our listeners.

Physics (Photo credit: neatlysliced)

Let’s try to help Dan!

Hi Barb and Chris — thanks for a great podcast!  I’m writing to ask for just a bit of direction on exploring gaming in education.  As a high school physics teacher, I was wondering if you might have any recommendations of places/resources to start exploring methods of potentially “gamifying” my physics classroom.  I’ve found quite a few resources on my own, but so far a vast majority of them seem to be specifically tailored to grade levels or subjects that don’t match up well with physics.  Thanks in advance for your time and any advice/direction you can provide!

Our answer:

Why are games important in education? In Jane McGonigal’s book, Reality is Broken, she points out many lessons to be learned from game design, including a point about difficulty: “Compared to games, reality is too easy. Games challenge us with voluntary obstacles and help us put our personal strengths to better use.”

Physics can provide many opportunities to “gamify” the teaching and learning environment. A simple way of doing this is to invite students to participate in experiential, hands-on learning, giving them a set of objects and having them solve a problem, for instance. This does not involve having to come up with a software application–the tools are already in the classroom and environment! However, if you want to include actual “games,” here are some ideas:

After conducting just a few minutes of research (and by the way I didn this within Google Docs, using the research tool), I found one teacher who was using the video game Angry Birds as a way to explore laws of physics: http://kotaku.com/5815767/angry-birds-happy-physicists

How about “Fold it” a game where you solve protein-folding puzzles for science: http://fold.it/portal/info/science

How about having your students solve an environmental issue through physics? Watch this YouTube video about changing people’s behavior in throwing away trash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbEKAwCoCKw&feature=youtu.be

For more ideas, go to http://www.thefuntheory.com/

How about setting aside a chunk of your classroom curriculum and having students participate in the Google Science Fair: https://www.googlesciencefair.com/en/2013/
This would enable them to make a difference in their world, work with other students, maybe even from other countries, outside of their school, and learn how to collaborate, create, and imagine.

Here’s Jane McGonigal’s Ted Talk video (Gaming Can Make a Better World) about the opportunities for gaming in education:

4 thoughts on “Episode 88: What is smaller than a Big Mac?

  1. After your discussion about the Learning Creative Learning MOOC I thought of this blog I read recently which talks about the various reasons people enroll in MOOCs and why they may or may not be active in them. http://derekbruff.org/?p=2533
    I also read somewhere (can’t find it now) that the thousands of people who sign up for a MOOC are like the people reading a class catalog entry and turning the page down to come back and review it to see if they are really interested. And then many decide they are not.
    I’ve signed up for MOOCs and completed them and then barely scraped the surface of others – sometimes it has nothing to do with the quality of the MOOC but just how busy I am. I must say the LCL one is fascinating. I’m too busy so am not contributing to my group but love dropping in when I can to get fresh ideas.


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