Playing Games in Class

Solubility Game Pic

I work with an amazing colleague named Roby Yeung who also teaches science at Dalat International School (see his website at <>. He has brought a lot of vigor to our science department this year. One thing he is doing in his classes is introducing games and projects tailored to the content. In biology he invented a macromolecule game in which the goal is to build macromolecules. The game is a card game and requires an understanding of bonds and different monomers, etc. I have not played the game but visited his class and saw the kids playing the game about 4 weeks ago.

In my current unit in chemistry (“Reactions in Aqueous Solutions”) one of the things kids have to do is to memorize the solubility rules. I use the cleanest-cut set of rules I could find anywhere which are both rationale and comprehensible at <>, a chemistry teaching site made by a former chemistry teacher. But memorizing is hardly interesting and so I wondered if I could put it into game format. I think I have succeeded!

The Solubility Game rules are posted here on a Google Document. Instructions for how to make the cards are also posted on the same document. It worked pretty well! Students in my class spent one homework assignment making cards. (I just had them cut 4×6 index cards into eighths as cards). Then the next day I introduced my newly fabricated rules and set student to the game.

Like any game the hardest part is getting the rules down; this game is no different, except that the goal is actually learning the solubility rules (which are part of the rules on page 2.) In the game you have two piles of cards, anions (negative charged ions) and cations (positively charged ions.) You start with 6 cards (3 of each charge) and your goal is to form ionic compounds, using one cation and one anion, and “meld,” or play your ionic compound down on the table. If the compound is soluble you earn 5 points and if the compound is insoluble you earn 10 points. In addition there are points for using polyatomic ions; more polyatomic ions in one compound eanrs more points. You also gain points for making insoluble compounds soluble – and the bonus of picking up insoluble ions so you can, in turn, play an insoluble ion down and earn the bonus 10 points for yourself.

I plan to submit this game to NSTA’s Science Teacher magazine letting teacher’s copy the game as long as they do not earn money from it (reserving the rights to commerce.) Last time I invented an ion building activity I later found a virtual copy of the idea in the same journal! I guess more than one person can have the same idea at the same time!

This is exciting. I love games; having rules and guidelines and goals make me more interested in achieving a goal. I am on the hunt now to make more games. Since I teach chemistry and physical science this year, most of the games will be in that vein. Watch here to see more ideas posted in the future.


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