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Review by Sol Joye, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2013

Hotel Heat

Fun hotel management game boils down heat to its essential concepts

Subjects & skills
  • Science

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: A fun and engaging way to play with the laws of heat and energy.

Cons: Limited scope of standards addressed, repetitive, and no teacher dashboard.

Bottom Line: Students will have fun learning about heat transfer, but the lack of variety and coverage means after 30 mins. teachers need to switch it up.

Teachers (either science teachers at the middle or high school level, or elementary grade teachers working within a science unit) would likely use this game at the end of a unit on heat, energy, or, more specifically, thermodynamics and heat transfer. The game works best when individual students can practice and experiment with the different science-based strategies within the hotel itself. The practice of these scientific laws could be discussed in small groups or as an entire class, and might be followed up with a summative writing assignment or project depending on how the teacher wanted to extend the lesson. For more advanced students and classes, Hotel Heat could be one aspect of a larger unit about energy-efficient design and engineering, culminating with students -- either individually or in project teams -- presenting designs, and maybe even models, of energy-efficient buildings.

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Editor's Note: This product is no longer available.

Hotel Heat has students play the role of a hotel manager trying to keep the temperature of each guest's room right where he/she likes it. To do so, students need to use the laws of thermodynamics and heat transfer to adjust the hotel's heating system so each room is perfectly warm or cool. Students who keep their guests through the night earn enough money to continue on to the next level. If too many guests get fed up and leave, students must repeat the level until they learn to move heat effectively through the building and keep guests happy.

Play is fast and charming, though very repetitive, and success or failure may depend more on quick clicks than on real understanding of the scientific laws of thermodynamics. So while it's instantly fun, there isn't a whole lot of variety (all the levels are the same with different customers), and students are likely to feel like they've gotten all they will get out of the experience after one session.

Hotel Heat does a very good job of isolating the scientific processes of thermodynamics and heat transfer, and letting the player experiment and practice these concepts in a fun context. But keep in mind that this focus means the experience is brief and limited in scope. It would be beneficial for students to have additional curricular scaffolding to connect gameplay with other covered concepts or extend to more complex concepts. Still, Hotel Heat is straightforward enough that students across a range of grades will get a basic understanding of heat transfer through the game alone.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

With its quirky style and premise, Hotel Heat should suck students in immediately. The simple design lets students dive right in without much setup.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Hotel Heat helps students experiment with -- and apply their knowledge of -- thermodynamics and heat transfer, two difficult concepts to practice. But students and teachers may be left wanting more variety.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

There are basic instructions, supplemental definitional text, and contextual pointers and tips (both for better play and conceptual learning) but no additional resources or extensions.

Common Sense Reviewer
Sol Joye Classroom teacher

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