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Teachers can use School of Dragons as a relatively educational game that adds much fun to science lessons, or it can be played by students who finish lessons early. If teachers also use the grade-appropriate resources on the website, the game can be part of a complete lesson on a variety of science topics, both general and specific. The game is also full of opportunities for lessons on evaluating media messages, between the messages from other players in the chat window and the constant messages that their experience would be improved if only they became paying members.Continue reading Show less
School of Dragons is an engrossing MMORPG where players take lessons at the school on the path to becoming an Ultimate Dragon Trainer. There are science lessons and instructive elements scattered throughout the game and its environment. The game begins like other MMORPGs, with students creating a character and soon thereafter hatching their own dragon. As their dragon matures, players learn about dragon training through flying practice, growing crops to feed dragons, flying exercises, and play. A thorough tutorial helps players get oriented, and then players can complete tasks to gain XP (experience points), UDT (Ultimate Dragon Trainer points), and level up. Players walk around the School of Dragons world, completing quests and tasks and following directions. Once they're oriented, kids are free to explore on their own, revisiting the Farm to grow more food, fishing, and learning from the teachers. All of this serves to level up the character, gain experience, earn coins and gems, and move them toward training their own dragon. A player's dragon can only fly once it's been leveled up sufficiently. Guiding arrows can show players where to go next, but this can also be turned off. The game has a typical WASD-space bar navigation. The guide book keeps each player up to date on everything they need to do and all of their scores.
Since this is an MMORPG, there are many opportunities for interacting with other players: by being "friends" with them, joining clans, using the chat ability, and more. Outside the game, there is also an active online community with forums and many other ways to share the experience, such as through making fan art, fan fiction, and more. One important thing to note is that, while this game can be played totally for free, players are continually bombarded with reminders that they will get a "better" experience by becoming members (i.e., paying for the game). Every time students purchase something from the store with in-game money, they are reminded of the discount that members receive. They are given the opportunity frequently to click on buttons that take them to screens to sign up as members.
While School of Dragons has plenty of science woven into the story line, that content shows up a bit sporadically. It's a game first, education second, but there's still plenty of learning to be had. If playing alone, students would likely gain some science knowledge as they unlocked content, but it's the extension activities on the website that make the experience much more complete. There, students can play science games, find worksheets, and get experiment ideas. Within the game, most of the science is worked into the story line, but some parts are a little separate: For example, the Hiccup's Scientific Method videos pull students out of the dragon-training world for a bit. Still, if they play extensively, students will definitely gain science knowledge as they take classes from the dragon trainers and practice skills. The game covers an extensive list of science topics, including the Scientific Method, Physical Science (matter, motion and forces, energy, waves and information transfer), Life Science (organisms, ecosystems, heredity, biological evolution), Earth Science (maps, Earth's systems, meteorology, geology, astronomy), Engineering Design, and Archaeology. These are all unlocked gradually throughout the gameplay, involving students with interactive content, so players (and teachers) need to be patient to reach the meaty material. There's a useful reference manual in-game as well, where much of the science reference content gets unlocked gradually.
Key Standards Supported
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.
Earth and Human Activity
Make a claim about the merit of a design solution that reduces the impacts of a weather-related hazard.
Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and their uses affect the environment.
Generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans.
Earth’s Place in the Universe
Support an argument that differences in the apparent brightness of the sun compared to other stars is due to their relative distances from Earth.
Represent data in tables and graphical displays to describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season.
Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation.
Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth’s surface at varying time and spatial scales.
Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.
Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
Ask questions and predict outcomes about the changes in energy that occur when objects collide.
Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.
Use models to describe that energy in animals’ food (used for body repair, growth, motion, and to maintain body warmth) was once energy from the sun.
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exists in a group of similar organisms.
Matter and Its Interactions
Measure and graph quantities to provide evidence that regardless of the type of change that occurs when heating, cooling, or mixing substances, the total weight of matter is conserved.
Conduct an investigation to determine whether the mixing of two or more substances results in new substances.
Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.
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