App review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2015
MedMyst: Disease Defenders

MedMyst: Disease Defenders

Scientific method simulation game puts students in scientists' shoes

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
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Grades
5–9
Subjects & Skills
Science, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Detailed lessons on the scientific method have clear real-life applications.

Cons: The game itself doesn't go into much detail; teachers must layer on extension materials to add real value.

Bottom Line: Solid science exploration game teaches real life skills that are immediately applicable.

Teachers can use this game as part of a lesson on infectious diseases or to help illustrate how to use the scientific method to perform real-life research. Extensive printable materials are available on the game's website for creating context and additional lesson ideas. The extension activities include additional materials, synopses, mission logs, vocabulary, activities, assessments, and a magazine for teachers.

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It's hundreds of years in the future, and infectious diseases are spreading. It's up to you and your team to keep them in check. This medical science simulation game allows students to investigate the spread of rabies among animals and humans using the scientific method. Students are drawn in to do the heavy lifting as they construct hypotheses, study tissue, and draw conclusions. The science experiments are simplified, but the concepts are solid.

First, students choose to train with one of the specialists to learn how they work as a team to solve infectious disease outbreaks. They can choose from epidemiology, microbiology, and veterinary medicine. Each path has its own objectives and focuses on different parts of the scientific method. On each path, students use tools particular to that profession, apps to extend the learning, and a glossary to learn important terms. The specialist acts as a mentor to guide students through the experiments and investigation as they study rabies transmission.

While the game itself doesn't take long to play and doesn't delve into much depth, important aspects of the scientific method are covered, and, along with the website's extension activities, a complete lesson is possible. In addition to the scientific method, students learn about infectious diseases and the professions of epidemiology, microbiology, and veterinary medicine. The game also covers case-control study, necropsy, rabies, and science process skills. Students choose the order in which to study the professions, but the game gives specific instructions and eventually restricts players to the correct outcome. Also, to get the full lesson, all three profession paths should be completed. Each of the three professions also has a mini-game to reinforce the concepts learned, but they don't add much to the experience.

Overall, the core of this game offers terrific insights, and the game and the accompanying resources could be helpful resources for extending and enhancing lessons about the scientific method in general and infectious disease in particular.

Overall Rating

Engagement

Students are pulled in right away to direct the action, going through real science tests to learn important lessons. The main game portions are engrossing and fun, though the mini-games don't add much to the experience.

Pedagogy

Hands-on learning involves students in many steps of the scientific method. The lessons learned here are immediately applicable to other areas of science and other subjects.

Support

The game closely guides students through parts of the scientific method, showing how and why to make decisions. There are vast extension activities on the website to enable teachers to make the game part of a larger lesson.


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