GameDesk, a nonprofit company focused on interactive game-based learning, has released two new games: GeoMoto: Plate Tectonics and Pangean: Continental Drift to teach students about Earth’s physical features.
These educational geoscience games can be played on the iOS, Android, and Leap Controller/PC Platforms.
In GeoMoto, which is $4.99 for mobile devices, players visit a planet with no geographic features, and are asked to create them by moving tectonic plates and making mountains, valleys, and volcanoes. They can see the results that their choices have on the landscape, which helps them learn real-world geoscience principles.
The game developed out of the real-world games of school playgrounds, according to Lee Banville of Games and Learning. They moved from those purely physical games to what they called a “floor exercise,” in which players moved elements around on a large game board, before the completely digital version was developed. With this method, the developers maintained an element of physical interaction throughout the development process.
Pangean is a puzzle game that teaches players about continental drift. Players play intergalactic colonists and learn how continents move, split apart, and rotate.
GameDesk’s founder and CEO Lucien Vattel:
During our strategy and development phases of creating any game, we ask ourselves, ‘Will this change the way students learn?’ We feel GeoMoto and Pangean further our commitment to providing new, interactive learning opportunities, ensuring students are making the right connections.
[Our mission is] to provide immersive learning activities for students through gaming and simulation in a native 21st century learning environment, with the mindset that learning and fun are not mutually exclusive.
The games are a result of the developers’ research and partnership with the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Science, the Betty Moore Foundation, and the Science and Entertainment Exchange. Developers worked with Bill Nye the “Science Guy,” LucasArts, Cal Tech’s Tectonics Observatory, and Boston University. The games are aligned with Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.
GameDesk has been producing innovative educational software since 2011, including the social-emotional game Dojo, Educade, and the PlayMaker School, according to the company’s website. They have been named one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Education by Fast Company.
A variety of games are included in its GameDesk Institute product. Dojo uses biofeedback technology to learn how to regulate emotions in a variety of scenarios. This aims to help children who struggle with impulsivity and/or emotional dysregulation learn to control their reactions. Politicraft is a card game that teaches civics and political involvement, while TherBot teaches thermodynamics. MathMaker teaches remedial math to middle and high schoolers.
Aero teaches aerodynamics by allowing players to control an albatross. Ancient Inventions deals with engineering through the lens of ancient history. MotionPlay introduces embodied learning in which players engage with virtual environments. There’s also Learning Lens, which helps teachers create assessments.
Educade is a library of lesson plans, apps, and games for teachers, parents, and students that gives access to game-based and hands-on learning.