At its most powerful, education harnesses our natural curiosity as human beings to understand the universe and everything in it. This week on the blog, we’re exploring what it means to actually reach into knowledge – and why developers are at the forefront of how the next generation is learning about the world they live in.
Seeing a geological diagram in a textbook is one thing. But reaching out and creating massive volcanoes with your bare hands? Rearranging the continents by searching for hidden fossil patterns? Now you’ve got some magic in the classroom.
Educational gaming is on the verge of a major turning point, and one of the leading forces is Gamedesk – an LA-based research institute, commercial development studio, online community platform, and physical school.
Recently, Gamedesk released a lengthy white paper detailing how they built a set of “kinesthetic learning” games that teachers can use to teach complicated geoscience concepts to students aged 12 to 15. These include Leap Motion games GeoMoto and Pangean, which let you rearrange continents, shift tectonic plates, and form volcanoes. Pangean and Geomoto are both available for free download on Gamedesk’s website and on our Developer Gallery.
Formerly known as Continental Drift, this puzzle game introduces the essentials of continental drift before moving on to plate tectonics. As a galactic member of the United Colonies, you travel the universe in your own scouting ship – using your hologram interface to piece together continents and demonstrate the shift that occurs over a hundred million years.
Use the fossil probe to reveal patterns in creature inhabitance and the sonar to scan for eroded portions of the continent. Your final mission? Returning present-day Earth to its Pangaea state! To help students absorb the lesson, teachers can ask: Why do you think the continents can be connected with each other? How did you use fossil remains to help you connect continents up? And why do you think similar fossils are found in different continents now?
Building on their insights from the other three games in the series, GeoMoto (formerly Plate Tectonics) gives players a more direct relationship to geo-concepts. In other words, pulling, smashing, and grinding tectonic plates together!
Using the Leap Motion Controller, players navigate around a world with no geographic features, then shift and experience the motion of the plates with hand movements. You can see how plate tectonics create volcanoes, folded mountains, rift valleys, and seafloor spreading, then learn about different types of faults and the Richter scale.
Kinesthetic Learning and the Future of Education
Geoscience is a complicated subject that involves thinking about the Earth as a fluid and complex system that’s constantly changing. These can be difficult concepts for kids, so Gamedesk used a kinesthetic learning approach to shed new light on the subject. This is a learning style that lets students engage physically with complex subjects through movement and action, rather than just watching a video.
Along with the creative and educational possibilities of virtual reality, we’re excited to see where motion-controlled gaming will take the next generation of students. You can download Pangean and Geomoto from Gamedesk’s website. Be sure to check out their white paper to learn about how the games were researched, built, and tested – including lesson plans and resources for teachers!