Thursday, July 28, 2011

Simple Machines Game

I've found a new favorite game - it's called "Simple Machines" and it's from The Museum of Science + Industry in Chicago.

This is a wonderful game for introducing or reviewing simple machines with students. It's night time at the Museum of Science and Industry, and there is work for Twitch to do. But Twitch doesn't like work and tries to find the easiest way of getting things done. Students will have to help Twitch select the simplest ways to complete his tasks in collecting the items he needs. The game takes them through 4 simple machines - inclined plane, pulleys, levers, and wheels. Students are given a choice and must select the item that will make a simple machine which requires the least amount of force to get Twitch across the obstacle to his desired item.

I really like how the game uses pictures of real items that can be used as simple machines, and then draws an outline of how they will look as the machine when you hover over each item. I also like the way the game explains each of the machines and what is needed to exert the least amount of force in each of the situations. After the task is completed, the game also gives examples of each of the simple machines. If the student makes a mistake in the selection of the item, it allows the student to continue and shows the student the amount of force that is being exerted to move an item, or Twitch. The game will also explain why the item was not a good choice, after the failed attempt, that is. And, it allows the student to try again.

At the end of the game, it shows the total amount of force Twitch had to exert through the whole game. Any force left over is totaled and points are given based on the amount of force that is left over after all tasks have been completed. Then there is a little fanfare celebration, which is sort of fun and cheerful.

Unlike some of the other interactive science games on the web, I feel this game does an excellent job of allowing the students to learn about some of the rules of physics and engineering by doing, and performing everyday tasks. The characters in the game are computer generated; however, the rest of the items and backdrops in the game are photos of real items. This is another cool feature to the game as it allows students to really visualize how things work in the real world. They are also able to identify real objects within the game. (I spotted an Einstein Action Figure doll in the game just like the one I have sitting on my desk at school!) Besides the Einstein figurine, there are many technical items in the game such as a volt meter that Twitch must lift to get to the desire object on the other side.

Museum of Science and Industry - Chicago - Simple Machines Game


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