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Paper: When The Rules Of The Game Are The Laws Of Physics: At Play In The Cosmos
Volume: 531, ASP2020: Embracing the Future: Astronomy Teaching and Public Engagement
Page: 284
Authors: Frank, A.; Bary, J.
Abstract: In this presentation we discuss the development and in-class use of “At Play In The Cosmos,” an award-winning full-course Astro 101 video game. The use of gaming in education has been discussed for some time and a broad research literature has emerged detailing best practiced for its deployment. Astro 101 classes would seem to be a perfect fit for the inclusion of gaming both because of the topics and the fact that the laws of physics and astrophysics (inverse square laws, Newton's version of Kepler's 3rd Law, Wien's Law) can be built into the game's “mechanics.” Thus the rules of the game needed to win can be the same physical principles we want our students to learn. But for a game to be successful, the most important element is that it must be fun (As one student put it, “Broccoli covered in maple syrup is still broccoli”). In this talk we discuss how our collaboration with professional game developers allowed us to achieve these goals, building a game for the entire Astro 101 experience that students both wanted to play and came away from with high levels competency in the subject material. We will also present some examples of how instructors have been using the game in class, particularly during COVID-19 distance learning.
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