Teachers can use Patterns to help students visualize different 3D solids, how they can be transformed, and how to calculate their surface areas and volumes. It can also be used to encourage exploration, creativity, and digital artistry. However, the frame of any work done with Patterns at this point in its development will have to come from teachers and students deciding together how to use the game. That isn't a bad thing at all, but other sandbox games out there (let's just say it: Minecraft) engender more user engagement through more intuitive gameplay. The complexity of Patterns, combined with its lack of helpful constraints or player guidance, may stand in the way of using it for collaborative projects or student-directed learning for novice players.Continue reading Show less
Editor's Note: As of October 2014, Patterns is no longer available for download.
Patterns is a downloadable 3D sandbox game that uses prisms and pyramids to let players sculpt a wide variety of geometric solids. Players control a "triangle man" who explores gorgeously rendered worlds to collect and build with such materials as heartwood, glowing moonstone, and runestone. In the single-player Realistic mode, players must collect all the resources they need and then use the game's crafting tool to build the basic shapes and patterns they want to use on a regular basis. For example, to unlock the cube shape to use with any material, the player has to first craft a cube. Players build large objects out of several smaller objects; they can even approximate spherical objects by building with interlocking pyramids. Multiplayer worlds also exist, as do worlds based on such mini-games as collecting a certain amount of a particular material in a given time frame. Users can also submit and share the worlds they build. The game uses a variety of 3D shapes (including cube- and pyramid-shaped worlds) and beautiful alien graphics to distinguish itself from other sandbox building games.
In the right classroom, Patterns could be great for exploring geometric solids, their surface areas and volumes, and how they can combine into new shapes. The game is in its Genesis (alpha) version, however, so it doesn't play as fluidly as it might in later versions. The camera tries to follow the player dynamically and switches between perspectives, making it difficult for users to focus on building projects as they move. The camera requires frequent right-click adjustments, which makes it painful to play on laptops with trackpads. The "triangle man" protagonist is a bit too alien to identify with, and the lack of a tutorial or any real danger makes it unclear why anyone would play in the Realistic mode of the game -- a user might get crushed by a falling tree but doesn't have to worry about health, hunger, or threatening mobs. Because the game uses so many shapes, figuring out what to build using trial-and-error experiments can be daunting.
Key Standards Supported
Geometric Measurement And Dimension
Give an informal argument for the formulas for the circumference of a circle, area of a circle, volume of a cylinder, pyramid, and cone. Use dissection arguments, Cavalieri’s principle, and informal limit arguments.
(+) Give an informal argument using Cavalieri’s principle for the formulas for the volume of a sphere and other solid figures.
Use volume formulas for cylinders, pyramids, cones, and spheres to solve problems.
Identify the shapes of two-dimensional cross-sections of three- dimensional objects, and identify three-dimensional objects generated by rotations of two-dimensional objects.
Understand that shapes in different categories (e.g., rhombuses, rectangles, and others) may share attributes (e.g., having four sides), and that the shared attributes can define a larger category (e.g., quadrilaterals). Recognize rhombuses, rectangles, and squares as examples of quadrilaterals, and draw examples of quadrilaterals that do not belong to any of these subcategories.
Find the volume of a right rectangular prism with fractional edge lengths by packing it with unit cubes of the appropriate unit fraction edge lengths, and show that the volume is the same as would be found by multiplying the edge lengths of the prism. Apply the formulas V = l w h and V = b h to find volumes of right rectangular prisms with fractional edge lengths in the context of solving real-world and mathematical problems.
Represent three-dimensional figures using nets made up of rectangles and triangles, and use the nets to find the surface area of these figures. Apply these techniques in the context of solving real-world and mathematical problems.
Solve problems involving scale drawings of geometric figures, including computing actual lengths and areas from a scale drawing and reproducing a scale drawing at a different scale.
Draw (freehand, with ruler and protractor, and with technology) geometric shapes with given conditions. Focus on constructing triangles from three measures of angles or sides, noticing when the conditions determine a unique triangle, more than one triangle, or no triangle.
Describe the two-dimensional figures that result from slicing three- dimensional figures, as in plane sections of right rectangular prisms and right rectangular pyramids.
Know the formulas for the area and circumference of a circle and use them to solve problems; give an informal derivation of the relationship between the circumference and area of a circle.
Know the formulas for the volumes of cones, cylinders, and spheres and use them to solve real-world and mathematical problems.
Verify experimentally the properties of rotations, reflections, and translations:
Key Standards Supported
Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6–8 texts and topics.
Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.
By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 6–8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9–10 texts and topics.
Analyze the structure of the relationships among concepts in a text, including relationships among key terms (e.g., force, friction, reaction force, energy).
Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words.
Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.
Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11–12 texts and topics.
Analyze how the text structures information or ideas into categories or hierarchies, demonstrating understanding of the information or ideas.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
Evaluate the hypotheses, data, analysis, and conclusions in a science or technical text, verifying the data when possible and corroborating or challenging conclusions with other sources of information.
Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.
Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks; analyze the specific results based on explanations in the text.
By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 11–12 text complexity band independently and proficiently.