G-FMS Curriculum Development Journal – July 18, 2013

July 18, 2013

On the way into work with Dylan he brought up a chemical reaction game involving space station modules that are built from combining elements according to the octet rule. We brainstormed how a variety of elements might work together for the hour-long drive, and then tabled the concept in lieu of Francisco and Nelson’s input on specific chemical combinations for introductory modules.

Once at work, I asked the team to begin their day by building out direction sets for the two most recent game designs – planetary fractions and scientific method. Once complete it would be important to iterate the next demo of the games for the faculty when they arrived at noon. Knowing that Professor Baker would again be joining us, I had the math team take particular care in beefing up their games, and asked that the science team begin sketching out the basic mechanics of the molecular space station game.

By the end the morning the design teams were able to give me the following instruction sets:

Scientific Method Game – Biology Module

Players are dealt an organism card, which only their opponents can read, and which they work to identify as a victory condition. They will be asking their opponents questions in order to identify what they are, and they will form these questions in specific dictated language.

“I have observed ____________ , _____________ , _____________ , (etc.) and so I hypothesize that my animal has (insert characteristic or attribute here).”

Players are also working to obtain a set of cards representing the primary attributes of various animals such as primary method of locomotion, sustenance, exterior membrane, and habitat. For example, in the case of a tiger the representative hand a player should seek to hold will involve quadruped, hunter, fur, and forest. Players will pick from and discard to central piles. These will be a draw pile and a discard strip where players may see all discarded cards.

At the start of the game, every player is dealt four cards, and the discard strip is begun with two cards from the top of the draw pile. Players must maintain a hand of four cards while playing a gin rummy like game to get a set representing their animal. A “set” is four cards, each representing a different aspect of the animal. When determining what cards should be included in your set, consider not what the animal is capable of, but instead which is a larger part of its survival (i.e., the turtle has four legs, but swims as its primary means of locomotion)

In a given turn a player may:

    1.Pick a card from the draw pile and discard one of their now five cards into the discard pile.
    2.Prepare a statement to any single opponent regarding the identity of their animal. For example the player may query, “I have observed that my animal is an omnivore and so I hypothesize that it is a mammal.”

Their opponent will consult the player’s identity card and answer simply either: “Yes, you have four legs,” or “No you do not have four legs.”

  • In the case of a Yes, the player may pick any card from the discard strip, or take the top card from the draw pile. They will then discard an unwanted card from their hand to the end of the strip, returning to four cards.
  • In the case of a No, the opponent will draw a card at random from the player’s hand and replace it with a card of their own from their now five card hand.
  • Statements may be anything deemed pertinent to their hypothesis, so long as it may be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. They may not repeat or invert a question (i.e.: “I hypothesize that it is a mammal.” “No, it is not a mammal.” – next turn- “I hypothesize that it is NOT a mammal.”)

    If there is any dissent or confusion with regard to how to answer a question, outside sources such as the Internet, a textbook, or a teacher may be accessed. Any discussion must be clandestine in order to keep the player in the dark.

    Once a player feels they know what animal they are, they may – on their turn – pose a statement of theory to their opponents. They will say:

    I have proven that my animal has the following characteristics: ________________, ________________ , ___________________ , (etc.) and so therefore present my theory that it is a ________________________.

    If they are correct, the game ends and points are tallied. If they are incorrect, play moves to the next player.

    When the game ends, each player turns over their organism card and compares the required set with the cards in their hand. Matches earn the player one point per card (no repeats), and the player who guessed correctly to end the game adds two points, for a maximum total of six.

    HEURISTICS for Scientific Method Game – Biology Module

    Assessable part of the experience: scientific methodology
    Meaningful Play: tbd
    Time Constraint: tbd
    Number of Players: 3-6
    Addresses Student Learning Outcome: Scientific Method
    Addresses Student Issue: the iterative nature of the working hypothesis
    Engaging Play: tbd
    Challenging Enough: tbd
    Prerequisite Knowledge: low
    Affordable/Easy to Recreate: tbd
    Level of Physicality: low
    Use of GraphIcs: tbd

    Physical Design Iterations for Scientific Method Game – Biology Module

    Attribute Cards Need to be thicker to avoid players being able to see through them.

    Organism Cards Need to be designed so players know their orientation from back. Question suggestions should be written on back for player to read

    Guessing Pad required

    Reference Pagewith a List of all available animals and a list of all available cards along with their number.

    **PLANETARY PIONEERS**

    Scientists have failed to find a planet that closely resembles Earth and have resorted to terraforming others to suit the needs of life as we know it. Their ultimate objective is to recreate a solar system of planets that require a specific ratio of elements and compounds to make its atmosphere livable. Atmospheric scientists have found that planets in the Snickers Galaxy must maintain their atmosphere at all times otherwise the imbalance would cause the elements and compounds to dissipate. As a result of this the scientists have developed a planet trading system where they can trade off compounds to create a habitable atmosphere.

    PLAYING THE GAME

    Planetary Pioneers is played in teams consisting of 3-4 players. Each team will draw a card with a planet in need of atmospheric change. These planets will consist of preset atmospheres, meaning it is made up of several elements. All the elements in a game are separated into 1/10th and 1/5th slices.

    1. The teams will assemble their planets, with their card telling them how much of each element their planet starts with. Once all teams have put together their planets, the game can start.
    2. The goal of the game is to change your planet’s atmosphere to the desired one, which is listed on the card (showing how many of each element is needed). Once it is decided who goes first, each team takes turn in clockwise order.
    3. Teams will try and achieve their goal by trading the elements, which already make up their planet, in order to obtain the ones that they need.
    4. A team will start their turn by first announcing which opposing team they want to trade with.
    5. Once an opposing team is chosen, one person will roll a six-sided die to see what type of trade will be made. Players can only trade one element and there are three outcomes:

    I. Forced Acquisition: Represented in a smiling face, if a team rolls this outcome they choose which elements get traded amongst planets.
    II. Forced Sacrifice: Represented in a frowning face, if a team rolls this outcome the opposing team gets to choose which elements get traded amongst planets.
    III. Friendly Trade: Represented with two shaking hands, if a team rolls this outcome, they must agree with the opposing team which elements are getting traded.

    6. Once a team has all the elements, and right proportions, they complete their planet and win the game.

    HUERISTICS for PLANETARY PIONEERS

    TIME CONSTRAINT: 10-15 minutes
    NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 7 teams of 3-4 players
    ADDRESSES SLO: Fractions (with a hint of percentages)
    ADDRESSES STUDENT ISSUE: Helps student to adjust to the use of fractions and whole numbers, subtlety teaches the conversion between fractions, decimals, percentages, and plain text.
    ENGAGING PLAY: Casual engagement (with interaction between the entire class)
    CHALLENGING ENOUGH: As the game is iterated upon the challenge will become greater and greater
    PREREQUISITE KNOWLEDGE: None
    AFFORDABLE/ EASY TO RECREATE: Simple design and construction, parts are replaceable (and scalable)
    LEVEL OF PHYSICALITY: Moderately physical (encourages movement and communication amongst classmates)
    USE OF GRAPHICS: The slices of each pie (whole) will have a sort of texture or color applied to it in the final iteration.
    MEANINGFUL PLAY: The idea is to help students better grasp the concept of fractions and their conversion to and from decimals, percentages, and plain language.
    WHAT IS THE ASSESSABLE POINT: The game is short enough where a professor can have the choice of handing out questions to be completed and discussed in 20 minutes or to play a game and help teach students in a fun manner how to mix fractions to gain a whole.

    When the faculty assembled, we began discussing the latest iterations of the most current games, and As the teams discussed their games the feedback was both very positive and insightful.

    We began with the rounding game, and Professor Baker suggested that we bring in more than just the fractional tenths for the first round if it gives a bit more play time, but he also suggested that an extremely short play time would allow for more productive classroom experience, and the introduction of successive modules on the same day. Professor Cannon suggested modifying the ten-sided dice for the rounding game to involve decimal points on the dice in order to have a clearer connection to rounding decimal places. She also suggested a secondary module of the rounding game with custom die with uneven decimal point numbers in order to require more decimal addition as well as rounding.

    We then took all the professors (sans Disanto who was still travelling) through the Scientific Method game and it was obvious from the laughter and cajoling that everybody enjoyed themselves while playing. The feedback echoed points brought up in the previous day’s playtest, although many points had been focused on in the new iteration.

    Professor Baker was called away, but the Science professors stayed on to give direct feedback and instruction to Amara, Dylan, and Kidany in regard to best ways to introduce elemental compounds in the first module of the space station game.

    [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]
    target compounds

    Targetted compounds for the Space Station Game

    The professors felt that both games’ focusing on appropriate scientific terms would introduce students to the language of the disciplines in an effective and productive manner even without necessarily introducing them to the associated concepts at the outset. Using words in the biology game such as herbivore and biped would have students relating terminology to meaning effectively, but introducing students to the names of compounds in the space station game without completely explaining them to the players would still be productive by way of making the terminology more familiar. I think it was Nelson who said “this helps make the language of science a bit less scary.”

    When we broke for lunch we had a great deal to think about, and headed off to a nearby diner. On the walk through campus, Elijah and Chris brought up their idea that the rounding game could actually be played as a social game with players representing the pieces in teams. As we walked through the college’s ‘A’ building atrium I excitedly charted out a plan for us to create a grid with painters tape and build large cardboard 10 sided dice in order to shoot a demonstration video from the overhead balconies.

    [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]
    potential venue for a social game version of the rounding game

    potential venue for a social game version of the rounding game

    We tabled the idea for production in the August section of our design project when we plan on creating how-to videos for the development of our games as well as video tutorial instruction sets of the team’s game ideas. These videos will be placed on the G-FMS website for open source dissemination to other educators and students.

    After lunch I began playing with a set of double 12 dominoes in the lab to construct a game concept I had involving multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction. The various operations would be represented by tokens placed on the connection points between tiles in order to build successful equations.

    [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]
    dominoes for math

    The dominoes and tokens provide opportunities to build combinations

    In this initial iteration, players need to work out possible connection combinations in order to empty their ‘hand’ of tiles or tokens. Another victory condition might involve a player capping off a line of numbers leading from the zero point, but this might be hard for players to keep track of. The Double 12 dominoes provide players with a wider variety of combinations than the traditional pieces, but also build a heavy load of complexity. In the picture above I used a more traditional set of tiles. The game will need more consideration as we move forward. Once I had worked through some of the details, I documented the game and joined Chris and Elijah to start working on a graphing game that could provide students with better understanding of graphing on an X/Y axis as well as gaining a better understanding of relational notation such as >, <, ≥, and ≤.

    We began by drawing an axis on one of our design boards and began working with the more complicated equations from the Compass exam workbook provided by Professor Baker. This exam is probably one of the most important assessments of student progress through remedial math courses, and is a the hurdle they must pass over in order to go on to actual college math credits at CUNY.

    The first equation went something like x -5 ≥ 12 – since we wanted to graph a target point on the axis we created an additional equation of y + 7 ≥ 8. Thanks to the involvement of ≤ and ≥ signs in the equation, resulting graph points would be plotted as a sweeping square with its lower left hand corner starting as (17,1). This did not necessarily suggest a gaming move to us, and we began playing with even more equations to give a more exact point on the graph. We needed an assortment of dice, and so began labeling a blank set I had purchased in order to have all aspects of potential equations – these combined with d10 and d6 numerical as well as spotted dice made for a large handful to roll, and a good deal of parsing once the dice were on the board.

    [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]Initial Iteration with multiple dice for all equation elements

    We began shaping a narrative involving a game of conquest involving four players occupying the four quadrants working to either take over other quadrants or eliminate opponent pieces. The militaristic approach, however, was not particularly making anyone enthusiastic.

    By the end of an hour we were staring longingly over at the science team who seemed to be having success and enjoying it. Our game reminded me of a statistical baseball game from the 1950s called Strat-O-Matic, which I had read about in the biographies of such engineering luminaries as Bob Moog. These games were straight out math, with nothing but pencils and slide rules as assets. I told the guys about the game and they gave me sullen silent stares in return.

    [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]
    1970’s era Strat-O-Matic baseball game apparently still popular today

    1970’s era Strat-O-Matic baseball game apparently still popular today

    I suggested that we have different cards – what Chris quickly dubbed ‘situation’ cards – which could involve more or less taxing mathematical equations related to more or less tactical actions. We threw around some ideas about what these might be, but the blood sugar was low, and the ideas were slow in coming.

    We broke for the day…[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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