After going through the educational system here in the US, I never looked deep into what these standards are or how they’re organized. It turns out its a very organized pathway of learning that clearly highlights what it expects students to learn. Whether or not this is the most optimal way of teaching is another story but its what we have to work with.
Getting told to develop a game that covered section 5.NF.B.5.B of common core was a bit overwhelming, however after researching we quickly found the official section outline, along with study material online from teachers.
– See products as expressions that can be interpreted in terms of a quantity and a scaling factor (a x b where a is the scaling factor and b is the quantity).
– Interpret a x b as a times as big as b (5 x 4 as 5 times as big as 4).
– Determine the relative size of the product by its factors. This is important when multiplying by a fraction because a fraction less than 1 will yield a product less than the two factors (1/2 x 6). Prior to this when multiplying whole numbers the product is always the same or greater than the non zero factors.
– Reason abstractly about the size of a product when multiplying by a fraction (1/2 x 1/6 will not be 1/3 but 1/12).
– In general multiplying by a fraction less than 1 will yield a product less than its factors, multiplying by a fraction that = 1 will yield a product equal to the quantity and multiplying by a fraction greater than 1 will yield a product greater than its factors (4 x ½ < 4, 4 x 2/2 = 4, and 4 x 5/4 >4).
Once we knew exactly what to cover designing the game was the next challenge.
Figuring out how to design a fun experience that covers all the topics mentioned above was a heavy challenge. The game needed to teach something very technical and precise. I decided that a cooking themed game would be the best decision for building an experience that revolves around fractions of things.
In the game you play as a chef at a restaurant and begin in a small food stand and eventually upgrade to a full restaurant. You have to complete people’s orders before they get frustrated and leave, estimate how much product to order for your warehouse, and fix catering orders.
We also wanted to include a way of guiding the player and making it seem organic so we decided to open the game up with a tutorial led by a head chef.
The game has the player racing against the clock to complete questions and tasks that come up in the regular day to day operations of a restaurant. Once the timer on the clock runs out the question goes away and is marked as incorrect.
Pace is built up by using the clock as a way of forcing the user to finish in a timely matter along with the anxiety of frustrating your customers by taking too long. Audio is also used to make the final seconds more intense. Additionally text is shown displaying the score you have so far.
Rewarding the user we use the cheerful and encouraging comments from your head chef and we also use effects and audio to give a satisfying ending to a question.
There are three minigames that will appear as you play through the game each with their own system and target a different section of our overall teaching section.
When the user enters something they think is correct but ends up being wrong or has absolutely no idea how to solve the question you need to be able to explain concisely what the issue was and how to solve the problem in the future. This was more difficult because of how modular the design was and was intended to be randomly generated. We had to craft a system that analyzed questions and built an explanation sequence using any values we feed it. After feedback from Legends of Learning we were able to finalize the explanation. It will display the correct answer followed by the steps to get to that answer with an animation to go with it.
To conclude, designing an educational game was a challenge and we had a lot of feedback from the publisher for our game. The topic didn’t allow for as much creative freedom however we were able to fully complete the game in a timely matter and it is used in classrooms across the US to teach fractions to students and that’s the main objective.
Posted on December 02 2019. Last updated on December 02 2019