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It'll fit perfectly in any ancient or world history class, world culture or geography class, introductory world language class, or as part of the informational text or graphic novel section of any classroom library. Mayan Mysteries is a 'good read,' and it deserves a wide audience. Compared to most instance of 'blended learning,' this game stands out because of its unique content, great production values, and focus on a compelling narrative that, most of the time, gives kids a way to learn that goes beyond worrying about the 'right answer.'
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Mayan Mysteries is an online educational adventure game (and an iPad app) that lets kids play as Team Q, a family of adventurers who focus on protecting ancient Mayan ruins from a villainous thief. Mayan Mysteries tells the story of archeologist Alex Quinn, niece Fionna, and nephew Charlie as they help their Central American friends stop Ladrone, a “master thief” bent on looting figures of Mayan ballplayers from the ruins of Caracol, Cerén, Copan, Tikal, Uaxactun, Palenque, and Chicen Itza.
As Team Q visits the four Mayan sites, kids undertake missions to outrun looters, map Mayan territories, uncover artifacts, and decipher Mayan riddles. Successfully completing a level releases a Mayan spirit that then transports the players into the past. In the parts of the game set in the past, players go on quests and play mini-games to learn more about the Mayans whose history they seek to protect.
Recent updates add content and new mini-games featuring pyramid exploration, archeological ethics, and Mayan commerce, engineering, government, and warfare.
Mayan Mysteries shines as an example of an educational game done right. It's got an attractive 2D graphic style thats runs throughout cut-scenes, levels, and mini-games. Players acquire information by exploring the LEARN encyclopedia, a beautiful guide that boasts a user-friendly interface, well-researched articles, and a thoroughly hyperlinked in-game guide to all things Mayan.
Games are “just right” in difficulty, so students progress steadily and get frequent feedback. The mini-games mix familiar and popular game types such as board games, hidden-item games, and tap games with challenging puzzles based on the Mayan number system. These mini-games show up at the right time and make sense plot-wise. For example, only after kids uncover artifacts at modern digs are they asked to spot those items in ancient Mayan homes. This game is as much fun as the classic educational game Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?; however, Mayan Mysteries puts Carmen to shame with its depth of content and robust collection of mini-games. Recent updates have added even more information about the Maya and diversity in mini-games, but players will still find multiple reading passages and quiz games per 'level,' or site.
Key Standards Supported
Operations And Algebraic Thinking
Multiply or divide to solve word problems involving multiplicative comparison, e.g., by using drawings and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem, distinguishing multiplicative comparison from additive comparison.1
Solve multistep word problems posed with whole numbers and having whole-number answers using the four operations, including problems in which remainders must be interpreted. Represent these problems using equations with a letter standing for the unknown quantity. Assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies including rounding.
Ratios And Proportional Relationships
Understand the concept of a ratio and use ratio language to describe a ratio relationship between two quantities. For example, “The ratio of wings to beaks in the bird house at the zoo was 2:1, because for every 2 wings there was 1 beak.” “For every vote candidate A received, candidate C received nearly three votes.”
Key Standards Supported
Reading History/Social Studies
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
Reading Informational Text
Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.
Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings.
Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text (e.g., through examples or anecdotes).
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.
Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events).
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).