Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March is for Making #22- Learning about the Brain through Gamification and Making








The students at Center for Technology, Essex are gearing up for their Game Design Unit.   “A good game designer understand how the brain works to engage the players in ways that makes the game fun - and sometimes addicting!” explains their teacher, Caty Wolfe, as they began studying the brain.


But Caty  ran into a problem -- her students were still struggling to understand how the brain actually works.



"So, what is a teacher to do when her students have been reviewing the parts of the brain at multiple intervals, had many opportunities to apply their learning, and still can’t remember?  Gamify it! " 



And what better way to do this  than create their own “Operations”  type game about the brain using a Makey Makey.   Now that’s what I call problem-solving by both the teacher and the students.







Today’s guest blogger,  Caty Wolfe,  shares how she and her students using making to better understand how the brain work. Caty Wolfe is also a creative maker educator who will be bringing her talents to the teachers at the Create Make Learn Summer Institute. Perhaps some of you will be learning with her this summer!







Guest blog post
by Caty Wolfe, Pre Tech Teacher at Center for Technology, Essex


In the PreTech program at the Center for Technology, Essex, we have developed a backwards unit about gamifying learning all the while gamifying the learning we are gamifying.  You’ll see what we mean.


Students in PreTech2:IDEA (IT, Digital Media, Engineering, & Art) have elected to spend their sophomore year learning in a technical career focused integrated program.  One of the career paths we study is Game Design.  With that as our focus, students earn English credit by writing directions and gamifying a concept, science credit through the study of brain function while having fun, math credit from probability, and art through 3D modeling and board and package design.  The end product is a playable game that teaches content to high school age students so they learn something.





“Gamification is about making something potentially tedious into a game,” says Merriam-Webster.  


So, what is a teacher to do when her students have been reviewing the parts of the brain at multiple intervals, had many opportunities to apply their learning, and still can’t remember?


Gamify it!  



The PreTech students at Center for Technology in Essex are no strangers to Design Thinking Challenges and Engineering Challenges, so they jumped in when given the task of gamifying the parts of the brain.

In small groups they created Operation-style games using a graphic of the brain, MaKey MaKey boards and tin foil, and Scratch to add sound bytes with the name of each part.  

They then created cards that had brain functions on them so the players would have to figure out which part to grab!  


What a hoot!  


And, the best part?  


They have now all aced the anatomy quiz!