For one of my classes at CSU San Marcos, 20% of my grade is based off of a project in which I must learn something using technology.
Right away I know what I'm going to do: I want to build a multi-platform game that teaches students how to perform unit conversions. I've been wanting to do a game development project like this for about a year, but haven't had time to fully devote to it. I've used the Unity game engine before and loved it (check out this game I made last year), but I want to make a game that students could potentially play in class or on school computers. Unity requires the user to download the Unity Webplayer, which some school computers might try to block. That's why I'm going to learn how to use the GameSalad engine for this project: it makes games for mobile and PC platforms, allows users to interact via touch-technology, and it seems to play nicely with HTML5 without needing any additional downloads on the user-end (or so I've heard). In theory, a benevolent teacher could paste the code for this game into their class website so that students could use it to practice unit conversions independently.
I got the idea for the unit conversion game after substitute teaching for my co-teacher at Vista High. At the time, his chemistry students were struggling to understand how to solve conversion problems with moles. Recognizing that mole conversions are just a matter of finding suitable puzzle pieces and cancelling out numerator-denominator pairs, I thought it would be fairly straightforward to represent the process graphically.
In this game (which will be designed to work on PC's, tablets, and smartphones alike), the player will receive a "Given" puzzle piece and a "Result" puzzle piece. In order to change the "Given" into the "Result," the player will have to strategically place "Toolbox" puzzle pieces that each have a "Numerator" and "Denominator." The puzzle pieces will start off looking like simple, colored rectangles. As the player progresses through the game, the player will have to deal with symbols, words, patterns, numbers, and... yes, units (like the mole).
If successful, the end result of my project will be a distributable (read "working") game that can be played on smartphones or PC's. I might even need to do some field testing with a couple of willing colleagues and students...
In the meantime, I have a TON of research to do. Google, I need you now.
Guiding Questions for this Project: