Tyto Online is great for practice and review of basic content and vocabulary, but it doesn't stand alone as a curriculum -- teachers should still plan on using their typical ways of teaching new material.
There are lots of tools that exist (or are planned) for teachers. These include the ability to track student progress, easily create or import rosters, and assign student usernames and passwords. There are Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) correlations and summaries of the storyline and activities in each module, as well as additional quests that can be assigned for extra practice. Some (but not all) teacher guides are available, and teachers should spend a fair amount of time playing the game so that they know what to expect. Teachers should also take advantage of the support pages and helpful chat service to find extra assistance with updates and implementation.Continue reading Show less
Tyto Online is an educational life science role-playing game (RPG) that couples an elaborate virtual environment with an engaging sci-fi storyline. Currently, there are three NGSS-aligned modules available for middle school life science: Ecology, Growth & Genetics, and Cells & Organisms. Kids play the role of a student scientist sent to the Tyto Academy, where they help researchers learn about the fictional world. Various features are available, such as a mini-map, an inventory showing points and rewards accumulated, a Biodex that catalogs the different plant and animal species, and progress trackers for the various quests and assignments. Players move freely through the virtual world, interacting with a diverse cast of characters and playing quests of their choice. Students earn points and awards for completing different tasks, which usually involve content review, observation, or working with hypotheses and evidence.
As it's still in development, some features of Tyto Online don't work as smoothly as they could, though the website indicates that new updates are frequently being implemented. Note: The game must be installed onto a device and can't actually be played online, though web access is needed to save progress. It's currently available on Windows, Mac, and Chromebooks (as an Android app).
Tyto Online gives students a novel way to review some life science concepts. It's adaptive, guiding the player through specific content with questioning, observations of the environment, simple analysis of data, and other tasks. Options enable kids to get more information on a topic if they need it or to move to the next step. An argument-building tool helps the player make connections between different pieces of evidence and construct a simple argument for a hypothesis. However, since evidence and hypotheses are predetermined options supplied by the game, kids won't get many opportunities to ask and investigate their own questions, or write their own evidence statements, hypotheses, or arguments -- unless they're using the Sandbox feature. This feature can be unlocked by the teacher to provide a more open, simulation-based experience. Note: Sandbox mode wasn't available for this review.
The frustration potential might be high for some kids who aren't used to playing role-playing video games. It's not always obvious what you are supposed to do to complete a task, and navigating from one area to another can sometimes take a really long time. Developers might consider implementing a hint function that pops up when a player answers incorrectly or fails at a task too many times, or seems lost; otherwise, a kid may waste lots of time trying to figure out what to do instead of interacting with the content.
Key Standards Supported
Statistics And Probability
Understand that statistics can be used to gain information about a population by examining a sample of the population; generalizations about a population from a sample are valid only if the sample is representative of that population. Understand that random sampling tends to produce representative samples and support valid inferences.
Use data from a random sample to draw inferences about a population with an unknown characteristic of interest. Generate multiple samples (or simulated samples) of the same size to gauge the variation in estimates or predictions. For example, estimate the mean word length in a book by randomly sampling words from the book; predict the winner of a school election based on randomly sampled survey data. Gauge how far off the estimate or prediction might be.
Informally assess the degree of visual overlap of two numerical data distributions with similar variabilities, measuring the difference between the centers by expressing it as a multiple of a measure of variability. For example, the mean height of players on the basketball team is 10 cm greater than the mean height of players on the soccer team, about twice the variability (mean absolute deviation) on either team; on a dot plot, the separation between the two distributions of heights is noticeable.
Use measures of center and measures of variability for numerical data from random samples to draw informal comparative inferences about two populations. For example, decide whether the words in a chapter of a seventh-grade science book are generally longer than the words in a chapter of a fourth-grade science book.
Understand that the probability of a chance event is a number between 0 and 1 that expresses the likelihood of the event occurring. Larger numbers indicate greater likelihood. A probability near 0 indicates an unlikely event, a probability around 1/2 indicates an event that is neither unlikely nor likely, and a probability near 1 indicates a likely event.
Approximate the probability of a chance event by collecting data on the chance process that produces it and observing its long-run relative frequency, and predict the approximate relative frequency given the probability. For example, when rolling a number cube 600 times, predict that a 3 or 6 would be rolled roughly 200 times, but probably not exactly 200 times.
Develop a probability model and use it to find probabilities of events. Compare probabilities from a model to observed frequencies; if the agreement is not good, explain possible sources of the discrepancy.
Develop a uniform probability model by assigning equal probability to all outcomes, and use the model to determine probabilities of events. For example, if a student is selected at random from a class, find the probability that Jane will be selected and the probability that a girl will be selected.
Develop a probability model (which may not be uniform) by observing frequencies in data generated from a chance process. For example, find the approximate probability that a spinning penny will land heads up or that a tossed paper cup will land open-end down. Do the outcomes for the spinning penny appear to be equally likely based on the observed frequencies?
Find probabilities of compound events using organized lists, tables, tree diagrams, and simulation.
Understand that, just as with simple events, the probability of a compound event is the fraction of outcomes in the sample space for which the compound event occurs.
Represent sample spaces for compound events using methods such as organized lists, tables and tree diagrams. For an event described in everyday language (e.g., “rolling double sixes”), identify the outcomes in the sample space which compose the event.
Design and use a simulation to generate frequencies for compound events. For example, use random digits as a simulation tool to approximate the answer to the question: If 40% of donors have type A blood, what is the probability that it will take at least 4 donors to find one with type A blood?
Construct and interpret scatter plots for bivariate measurement data to investigate patterns of association between two quantities. Describe patterns such as clustering, outliers, positive or negative association, linear association, and nonlinear association.
Know that straight lines are widely used to model relationships between two quantitative variables. For scatter plots that suggest a linear association, informally fit a straight line, and informally assess the model fit by judging the closeness of the data points to the line.
Use the equation of a linear model to solve problems in the context of bivariate measurement data, interpreting the slope and intercept. For example, in a linear model for a biology experiment, interpret a slope of 1.5 cm/hr as meaning that an additional hour of sunlight each day is associated with an additional 1.5 cm in mature plant height.
Understand that patterns of association can also be seen in bivariate categorical data by displaying frequencies and relative frequencies in a two-way table. Construct and interpret a two-way table summarizing data on two categorical variables collected from the same subjects. Use relative frequencies calculated for rows or columns to describe possible association between the two variables. For example, collect data from students in your class on whether or not they have a curfew on school nights and whether or not they have assigned chores at home. Is there evidence that those who have a curfew also tend to have chores?
Key Standards Supported
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.
Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.
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.
Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.
Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.
Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant, accurate data and evidence that demonstrate an understanding of the topic or text, using credible sources.
Use appropriate and varied transitions to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.
Key Standards Supported
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Gather and synthesize information about the technologies that have changed the way humans influence the inheritance of desired traits in organisms.
Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
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.
Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem.
Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
Conduct an investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells, either one cell or many different numbers and types of cells.
Develop and use a model to describe the function of a cell as a whole and ways parts of cells contribute to the function.
Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells.
Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.
Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms.
Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.
Develop a model to describe how food is rearranged through chemical reactions forming new molecules that support growth and/or release energy as this matter moves through an organism.
Gather and synthesize information that sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain for immediate behavior or storage as memories.
Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
Develop and use a model to describe why structural changes to genes (mutations) located on chromosomes may affect proteins and may result in harmful, beneficial, or neutral effects to the structure and function of the organism.
Develop and use a model to describe why asexual reproduction results in offspring with identical genetic information and sexual reproduction results in offspring with genetic variation.
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