Simulations

Simulations can help us to study and virtually experience something that would be difficult or even dangerous to recreate in real life.  My most memorable experience of this was the hazard perception test element of my driving test. More recently I took my Year 6 class for a simulated dive in coral reefs to meet schools of fish and even dolphins. Both of these examples live up to the original QCA description of simulations being particularly useful when a real life process:

 is too dangerous,
takes to long,
is too quick to study,
is too expensive to create.

Simulations and modelling have always been a part of the ICT curriculum and due to the nature of the QCA documents, which has awarded them their own unit. They can be taught in a de-contextualised stand alone route which robs them of relevance and authenticity. In the NAACE framework for ICT, it is good to see that simulations are still included.

As learners progress through KS1 and KS2, they will develop increasingly sophisticated presentation and multimedia skills. They will share information in a variety of forms, both offline and online, and understand what simulations are and how they are used.

I mentioned this because in the last week I have discovered three on-line simulation games, which I’d not seen before and which could slot into Key Stage 2 topics or themes. Although one of them would be a bit tenuous.

Stop Disasters

My thanks to Drew Buddy @digitalmaveric for mentioning  http://stopdisastersgame.org/ at the recent Teachmeet at NAACE Hothouse.  In this game you prepare for disasters such as Tsunamis by building sea defences, planting trees and building  homes and hospitals. If you manage your resources well you will  minimising damage and loss of life will be minimized.. This has to be the most playable educational and curriculum linked sim game I have ever seen, despite suffering from less than impressive graphics.

QWOP

Lets make no mistake about it this one and the CLOP below are hard and you could easily lose an hour trying to get your athlete to race perfection. In defence of these though I think they do serve as a good introduction to programming with say Scratch as you really need to think about sequences, simply hammering the keys wont always win the race, unlike the Spectrum games of our childhood.

QWOP does fit quite nicely into our current Olympic buzz and is reminiscent of the recent Google homepage race game. There is an IOS version as well as the online PC game, which I have to say is even harder.

CLOP

If you need a tenuous curriculum link for this simulation game, then you could go down the road of myths and legends as it is about a mythological unicorn. I think it also helps to reinforce the idea of sequences and leads to discussion about what makes a good game. Like QWOP and other games on the FODDY site there is a high level of challenge and difficulty. It would be good to look at least one of these games before using a game creation tool like 2DIY or Kodu, in or der for children to arrive at a shared definition of what makes a good game. In my experience with Year Five and Four on these type of activities iA word of warning here though the object of the game is to reach a virgin over the other side of the hill, which could lead to some difficult discussions.

If you know of any other great simulations, then do please comment.

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