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There are excellent supplemental materials and lesson plans designed to guide teachers through all the possible worlds. The best way to use these games is precisely as suggested because the lesson plans have a wide scope, even including pre-made slideshows. It would be perfectly feasible, however, for a teacher to use the games as review or to encourage critical thinking by students. Adventurous teachers could encourage students to come up with other ideas about common scientific misconceptions and design their own games or stories to address those issues.Continue reading Show less
Editor's Note: The Possible worlds site still exists, but all of the games are Flash-based and not supported by most browsers.
Developed by the National Research and Development Center on Instructional Technology, Possible Worlds is a collection of learning games designed to teach commonly misunderstood scientific concepts well by using best practices in pedagogy and conceptual learning. The covered concepts include photosynthesis, heredity, electricity, and heat transfer -- each tackled in a different game. The games are designed to be easy to play, with simple narratives and featuring different, familiar genres like adventure and platforming. Play is supported by useful extensions and activities that build critical thinking and that meld well with teachers' instructional needs.
The Possible Worlds website is well-researched and meticulously organized. Each game is accompanied by suggested lesson plans and supplemental materials to help teachers communicate the concepts as thoroughly as possible. The site's developers understand that many scientific concepts are difficult to comprehend and easily misunderstood. These games target those misunderstandings, helping students clarify common misconceptions rather than teaching core concepts. Games aren't designed to replace teacher-led learning, but to supplement it. When used in this context, they're engaging ways to help students understand difficult ideas.