I frequently browse the web for "Citizen Science", but decided to tag a specific discipline to my usual query. Tonight, it happened to be "Limnology". The first return was a link to Filament Games. What a treasure trove of teaching tools! In fact, as per their About Us page, the company is "a game production studio that exclusively creates learning games."
The specific link Google brought me to was their game Citizen Science, described as "an adventure game that teaches science and limnology." Now, you'd think this story ends with me exploring lake and river environments. Turns out that the game is still in development, so I didn't get very far. In fact, I didn't get beyond choosing a character.
Not dismayed, I went to their Projects page for a browse-around. This site is pretty amazing, especially for school-aged kids. With about 30 projects to choose from, including Landform Detectives, Eco Defenders, and Oncology, there's something for the little budding citizen scientist in your life. What's more, the games are not limited to scientific endeavors. Want to learn about congressional representation? Try Law Craft, or Represent Me!
There are so many games for a youngster, or, I admit, adults as well. I'll call out just one though, and that's MasterMines. You are a juvenile researcher in a geology lab. Your mission: travel around the planet, collect mineral samples, and bring them back to the lab for analysis. Once in the lab you use a variety of tools to identify the sample. As you progress through the game you are given more tools for mineral identification (a microscope for analyzing crystal structure is next).
At the start there are four tests (streak, luster, hardness, color). Each station allows you to discover a specific quality of the rock. Afterwards, you take the mineral to the lab specialist who guides you through a series of questions based on your findings. What is the hardness? Is its luster vitreous? At the end, you have identified the material.
I could go on and on about how cool it is to see kids being taught the fundamentals of geology just as any classically trained geologist would. It's also cool to finally see a game that is educational and not simple-minded (simple to play, but definitely not a such a breeze that you can play it on mental autopilot). Most of all, this game is interesting, as I imagine the other games to be. Thank you people at Filament Games for these engaging, well-conceived games.
Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll continue my geologic education with Landform Detectives...