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Web Adventures: Explore Science

What it is:  Web Adventures-Explore Science is a site by Rice University.  Web Adventures lets students explore science-one game at a time.  Each adventure has a section dedicated to students and a section dedicated to teachers who are using the adventures in the classroom.  In the Cool Science Careers section, students can experience what it means to take on science as a career.  They can go through Profession Pathfinder to see which science careers best match their personality based on their answers to career interest questions.  Students can select from five different science career fields to virtually try out activities that are typical for the career.  With Zoom In, students can learn about different science jobs and read interviews with real scientists.  In the CSI: Experience, students learn all about what it takes to be a forensic scientist.  There are four cases that students can work to solve.  As they solve the crimes, they will learn about forensic biology, ballistics, toxicology, medical examination, fingerprint analysis, digital forensics, fire investigation, and facial reconstruction.  In the MedMyst section, students will use the scientific method and scientific process to investigate infectious disease outbreaks.  Students can work with the N-Squad forensic scientists to solve an alcohol related crime.  Throughout the game, students learn what alcohol does to the digestive, circulatory and nervous systems.  In the Reconstructors series of games, students can learn about the health effects of drug abuse while learning neuroscience. These games are really entertaining while giving students information and understanding of science in body systems, drugs, environmental science, forensic science, infectious diseases, science careers, and the scientific method. How to integrate Web Adventures: Explore Science into the classroom: This is a fun find.  Web Adventures Explore Science, helps students explore science in a new way.  I like that the focus of the site isn’t just to deliver information.  The mission is really to engage students in science and reveal how science is used in a variety of careers to solve problems.  The games drop students into the middle of a mystery, their job is to help solve crimes, discover answers and connect the dots. This is a fun site for middle and high school students to explore.  It can be used to introduce a new scientific discipline or topic, to help students dig deeper in the learning and skills they are getting in science class, or to help them discover what it means to be a scientist.  The games are best in a computer lab or 1 to 1 environment where students have access to a computer for an extended amount of time.  They aren’t really short enough to be a center on classroom computers.  A whole class could explore and solve together using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  While not ideal, it would allow them to pick up the benefits of the adventures. At Anastasis, we started “crave” classes.  These are classes that we offer every Wednesday afternoon.  Students are given a catalog of classes at the beginning of a 5 week block.  They get to choose which class they would like to enroll in for the 5 week period based on what they are “craving.”  Our teachers choose an area of passion to teach.  @bestmscott is currently holding a forensic science class for her crave.  The kids are LOVING it!  After learning about some forensic science, they set out to solve some mysteries.  I have a feeling they would geek out over the CSI adventure on Web Adventures Explore Science.  Today the kids were creating their very own mysteries that needed forensic science to be solved.  I was teaching my own class so I didn’t get to see how the whole lesson fleshed out.  What I do know: kids were taking my finger print, asking me to pop balloons covertly, and creating a list of suspects.  Their classmates will have the job of using the forensic clues to solve the mystery.  SO stinking cool.  Our students are the best.  Our teachers are out of this world.  I have to brag on them! Tips: Web Adventures has a new iPad app called NeuroKnowledge that quizzes students on scientific understanding.  The app is free in the app store. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Web Adventures: Explore Science in  your classroom!

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Playfic: create, play and remix text-based games

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, History, Interactive book, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 08-01-2013

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What it is: Playfic is a site that let’s users create, play and remix online text-based games.  I may have lost some of you already…but don’t leave yet! A text-based game is a genre of game that uses no graphics or sound, but instead, uses text to tell a story in an interactive world.  Think of a choose your own adventure tech-style.  Students can create a story that others can interact with by directing the story using words and phrases.  As an example, the story might be about a forest, describing what you can see East, West, North and South.  The player would type in a direction “East”, hit the return key, and the story progresses.  You can try out a sample text-based game here.

How to integrate Playfic into the classroom: Playfic has all kinds of good stuff for classrooms.  To create a story, students must first learn a little bit of coding.  Tutorials are included on the Playfic site, and are easy enough to get your students up and running in no time.  There is even a link to an Inform 7 (coding language) recipe book that will have your students dreaming up new scenarios and actively researching how to make them come to life.  Students can create games for each other while strengthening their writing and grammar skills.  This is wonderful for fictitious writing, but could also be used for students to explore “what ifs” in history and science.  Students can take a moment in time and dream up what might have been different about the world if the event hadn’t happened the way that it had.  As they are researching and learning about the actual event, they will also be analyzing why the event is important and critically thinking about it’s impact on the world we live in.  Similarly, students could explore a science experiment, hypothesizing what will happen and the different outcomes that might occur.

Teachers could create these choose your own adventure stories for students for new learning or review of a topic.  Wouldn’t it be cool to have a story using sight word vocabulary that prompted practice with the sight words?

I know a handful of students who really struggle with writing…it is PAINFUL.  These students are brilliant. They have great ideas to share. One of the students I have in mind came up to me today and said, “over break I taught myself Lua (programming language).”  Students like these will be all over this type of writing.  What a cool way to engage them and excite them about the writing process in a new way.

One of the things that I really like about Playfic is that it takes a lot of planning, organizing, and thought to create this type of story.  For some students the planning/organizing portion of writing is a real struggle.  This site would be so useful in teaching students the importance of those steps.  I also love that it will have them researching and looking up solutions for how to make their ideas come to life.  Just like we do every day in the “real world.”

Tips: The Inform 7 Recipe book can be found here. 

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Playfic in your classroom.

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