Editor’s Note: Harsh is an exceptionally strong student. He excels in every subject, especially science, math and computer science. He is an active member of the BHS Robotics Club and has a strong programming background. Concerning technology, Harsh is highly critical and I’ve learned over the past semester that it takes a lot to impress him! When I came across a recent article in MindShift pertaining to physics games, I instantly thought of Harsh. I shared the article with him and asked him to write an analysis. Here’s what he had to say:
On Monday, Mrs. Scheffer gave me my assignment for the week. It was a list of 5 physics games from MindShift linked here. I looked at the list. Most were pretty much useless in terms of physics. Sure they would be very entertaining, but not at all informative. Amazing Alex, World of Goo, Crayon Physics Deluxe, Coaster Crafter, and Tinderbox are fine puzzles. But not once is there a mention of real, applicable physics. Making objects out of items given to you does not help you solve F=ma. Empirically looking at objects interacting with each other once gravity or other forces are applied might show you have things would behave, but that is not useful outside of the game. In actual physics, empirically solving things will not help you. It is almost the same as guessing. Exact answers are necessary in every environment outside the universe of the game. Sure, physics is involved in the game, but transferring this knowledge is difficult. Knowing how far to shoot a bird in Angry Birds does not ever help in learning parabolic motion.
Educational games are often hit or miss, either not entertaining or not informative. Sometimes these games fail both these criteria. Frankly, most of these games are not worth the time or the effort. I took on the task of finding an educational app that fits both criteria. I found Cargo-Bot. The whole app is based around a simple task, just telling a crane how to stack the crate in the given pattern. The app starts with simple movements and then teaches the benefits of loops and even complex topics like recursion. All in all, the simplicity of the app helps one learn programming and the whole mindset in a game-like environment. Not to mention that it is free! The whole app was programmed on the iPad with the language Codea, which gives the user another level to beat after one has completed the game. Check out Cargo-Bot and Codea on the App Store!
Interested in learning more about game-based education? Visit Edutopia’s Game-Based Learning blog to learn more.