Though Spore doesn't accurately represent evolution, it does capture basic ideas about biology, organisms' needs, and how they organisms with their environments. The creation tools can also help kids understand how 3-D models are built inside graphics engines.
You can use Spore to teach discrete lessons by having kids play one stage at a time. For example, in a computer drafting or graphics class, you could ask kids to create a few creatures, buildings, or vehicles, and then ask them to reflect on how composing in 3-D differs from composing in 2-D and how compositing digitally differs from composing physically. In a biology or sociology classroom, you could ask kids to iterate several creatures or civilizations to discover which designs make for the best predators or military societies and which make for the most viable consumers or religious or commercial societies.Continue reading Show less
If you could design your own unique species, what would it look like? In Spore, players guide the "evolution" of a creature across five stages: cell, creature, tribal, city, and space.
In each stage, the player has to collect resources such as food or spices, Spore's late-game currency, to purchase upgrades that help the creature or its society colonize worlds and conquer or co-opt other organisms and groups. Players can choose to use violence or social measures, such as religious conversion and trade, when evolving. Each stage ends after the player has met the game's growth goals.
The best part of Spore is its creation mode. Players design all of the creatures, buildings, and vehicles they use in the game. The creation tools offer a generous variety of body, building, and vehicle parts that are further customizable by scale, rotation, and color.
Spore isn't meant to teach the science of evolution or biology. However, the game is great for digital creation and very useful for talking about how people and societies meet their wants and needs, as well as for comparing and contrasting gameplay against scientific definitions of evolution, biology, and ecosystems.
Since players act as guiding hands, they influence how creatures and societies change over time according to their own agendas, not any scientific law or theory. There's plenty of room to experiment. Designing buildings and vehicles is enjoyable, but it's not as wondrous as designing a creature. Teachers should note that the game changes about halfway through from being an engaging animal sim to being a real-time strategy game that's about species evolution in the universe. Players can choose to be aggressive (read: violent) or diplomatic.
Key Standards Supported
Reading Informational Text
Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.
Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).
Compare and contrast findings presented in a text to those from other sources (including their own experiments), noting when the findings support or contradict previous explanations or accounts.
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.
Key Standards Supported
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in: (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species.
Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.
Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Evaluate the evidence for the role of group behavior on individual and species’ chances to survive and reproduce.
Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.
Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
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.