Newtoon: Learn Physics Making Games
Newtoon is a mobile phone and web activity which aims to embed physics learning in mobile game creation and play. It enables young people to create microgames via a web interface on a PC in a 2D world consisting of balls and springs. The games can be trialled and edited on the PC, and various physics principles regulating the movement of objects can be manipulated via the interface.
More here. The full report looks like a worthwhile read – with some very strong apparent outcomes. A very limited discussion below.
As with many other GBL studies, this one also emphasizes the need for teacher intervention (although with a more ‘dialogic’ pedagogy than the traditional):
However, the trials indicate that interventions from the teacher are not only possible, but essential for all students to learn science from Newtoon. (Newtoon report, p26)
Science Talk Starts with the Teacher
… emphasises the important role of the teacher in opening a dialogic space and presenting learners with scientific language and tools to continue their own conversations about science. (p33)
Some good quotes to back up the claim that it encouraged a more positive attitude to science in school (p24):
“Some parts of science can be fun. I always hated science in primary school but obviously secondary school science is a bit funner… if that’s a word.”
It is not a magic bullet. High-ability students gained some benefit, but already understoond most of what Newtoon attempted to teach. Middle-ability students gained the most, while:
Lower ability students had patchy understandings to begin with, but there was evidence to suggest that Newtoon had helped them to some degree. Some students answered questions with greater confidence and accuracy after the trials, but misunderstandings persisted. (p21)
I haven’t read the report fully yet… so apologies if I’ve missed a vital key point!
Author: Daniel Livingstone, 12 February 2008