When I worked in an alternative school we played games a lot. They just calmed everyone down and gave the room a better vibe. Occasionally, we also used them to reinforce concepts learned in class, here are some of the games we used to play and some I took with me.
- Periodic table battleship…woo, woo! So I wasn’t the first one to think of this but I like to think I made it more educational and relevant to what we see here. Most teachers use the atomic numbers, the document I posted uses rows and number of valence electrons like row 2, 8 valence electrons. We used the outer shell electron configuration to dial in our shots fired so rather than just saying “10” for neon, they would have to say 2s2, 2p6 and it was a relatively fun way to get students speaking the language.
- Although this next game is not educational it was a good moral booster on those tough days when everyone just wanted to go home. It’s called Irish Fairytale and the guy in my Play to Learn, Learn to Play post taught me this, too. That is not the real name or else Google would have definitely found it, but it goes like this. With a group, two people leave the room. They only know that the group is creating a story and they have to ask questions when they’re allowed back in the room to guess the story. The group just comes up with a title and the two questioners end up creating the story asking yes or no questions. They end up fabricating this elaborate tale from the group answering their questions in no, no, no, yes order. Eventually, they ask questions that contradict their story and they know somethings up. We have them ask the same question 4 times so they see the pattern of answers. AMAZING GAME…but you can only play once with one whole group.
- I was reading about Katie’s marble game which sounds a lot like one of the STEM activities we would do to discuss pollinators (bees, etc.)! Students needed to pick up marbles in Katie’s version, but in the STEM version we have to transfer pollen from one area to another. Very cool!
- In physics, we use a lot of the PHET simulations in our coursework. Some of these simulations simply provide a sort of virtual lab but others are games. I am a fan of Electric Field Hockey where students use like and opposite charges to propel and attract a particle it the right direction to score a goal. If you play you might not stop.
- The last game I would like to highlight is Turd the Target and Turd the Target II located on The Physics Classroom. At first my students think I am joking, but no, you are actually doing physics calculations in order to land a “bird’s” poop in a container as it flies. They all think it’s so strange when they first play but talking to students years later it’s one of those things they remember from my class (good thing??).