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Code Fred: Survival Mode
Pros: Engaging experience makes sense of human biology.
Cons: Some games require a bit too much experimentation to figure out.
Bottom Line: A unique tool biology teachers can use to introduce the body's chemical processes.
Code Fred would be an excellent introduction to a unit of study on how the body functions. Teachers could begin by asking students to brainstorm ways their bodies respond in emergencies, and then see how many of their responses are included in the game. The game would also make an effective pretest review. You might also encourage students to choose one of the body processes discussed in the game and learn more about it, creating posters mirroring the game's style (a large circle showing what's happening inside the body with an arrow pointing to the individual's situation).
Fred's having a lousy night. He's out camping with his dad when an angry wolf starts chasing him through the woods. As Fred's body, it's your job to get him back to the campsite alive. You do this by helping his body provide the necessary chemical reactions. For example, you might trigger a burst of adrenaline from Fred's eye to his heart to his liver. Later, when his leg starts gushing blood, you frantically restrict capillaries to slow blood loss. Complete all these tasks and you'll get Fred safely back to the campfire. Fail, and Fred's body becomes "one with nature." It should be noted that, although nothing is too graphic, Fred's leg does spurt blood at one point, which may upset sensitive students.
Although there isn't a lot to this game -- it can be played in a single classroom period -- it provides an excellent introduction to, or review of, the body's processes. For many students, the basic connection between Fred's internal and external workings will become much clearer through playing this game. Some students may find the experience frustrating -- there aren't always clear instructions on how to accomplish the goal for each task -- so some extra instruction and repeating certain tasks will help students remember the process more clearly. A post-game discussion will also help students to recall what they may have forgotten amidst any particularly frantic play.