Educators and parents are turning more frequently to open educational resources including online games and educational apps to engage 21st century learners. Summer can be a great opportunity to blend a child’s interest in science or history with their fascination for digital games. And studies show that summer is a crucial time for students as much learning is lost during the hot months. PBS LearningMedia, launched a year ago, has a robust collection of free interactive games to experiment, manipulate, and investigate with this summer.
Below are a sampling of games from PBS LearningMedia.
Amusement Park Physics How do physics laws affect amusement park ride design? Find out by designing your own roller coaster in this interactive from Annenberg Learner. Discover how physics laws are used to design a variety of amusement park rides. Understand how physics keep riders safe while providing a thrill.
Cooking with Sugar In this interactive activity adapted from the Exploratorium, learn how different ingredients and the application of heat influence how different types of candy are made. This activity presents a scientific definition of sugar, including an illustration of a sugar molecule; explains how candy makers prevent crystallization from ruining their creations; and addresses the question: Is sugar bad for your teeth?
Build-a-Fish In this interactive activity from Shedd Aquarium, design a fish that has the right adaptations, or traits, to help it survive in a reef environment. Choose a body, mouth, and color/pattern, then release your fish into the ocean reef to search for food and evade predators. Steer your fish around the reef to see how well it survives with the traits that you gave it. Design a fish and release it into the reef to search for food and evade predators. Observe how each fish has unique adaptations that help it survive in its habitat.
Climate Change Challenge Latino Public Broadcasting’s interactive game helps students become knowledgeable about the effects of our choices on the environment. Complete training modules and become certified in the following areas: the carbon cycle, the water cycle, human impact, nature’s impact, mitigation and oil spills. After completion of the modules, students play an interactive game about how their personal choices impact the climate.
Multimedia project Mission US features free interactive adventure games set in different eras of U.S. history. The first offering, Crown or Colony? puts the player in the shoes of Nat Wheeler, a 14-year-old printer’s apprentice in 1770 Boston. As Nat navigates the city and completes tasks, he encounters a spectrum of people living and working there when tensions mount before the Boston Massacre. Ultimately, the player determines Nat’s fate by deciding where his loyalties lie.
In the latest offering, Flight for Freedom, players assume the role of Lucy and become immersed in the experiences of a runaway slave in the years before the Civil War. As the game opens, Lucy is a young slave on the King family’s plantation outside of Lexington. Players encounter a diverse group of people – from abolitionists to slave owners – and make decisions that affect the game’s outcome.
Thousands of games can be found at @ pbslearningmedia.org