1 Types of game

There is a wide range of online games that could be used in the classroom and in students’ own time to support their education. Many of these can be downloaded onto laptops and phones so that more students can access them. But access to electronic or online games is not universal and there are many other similar games that can be used in the classroom to help students in just the same way.

Board games, card games and active physical games can all be used to explore aspects of many science topics as well as electricity (see Resource 1). All these games could also easily be adapted to use with other science topics and with students of different age groups. Depending on your access to resources you can play games involving the whole class, or in groups, pairs or individually.

Activity 1: Using a memory pair game

Use the template given in Resource 2 to make a set of cards with electrical terms and pictures. Recycle old envelopes (or cards from boxes if paper is short) to make the cards.

Next ask a colleague to play with you. Spread the set of cards face down on the table or the floor. Take it in turns to turn over any two cards you like, placing them face up. If the cards match, i.e. you have a picture of a bulb and a card that says ‘the light in a circuit’, then the player keeps the pair. Now your colleague does the same. If the pairs do not match you have to turn the cards face down again. The aim is to gather as many matched pairs as you can.

Pause for thought

  • Did you and your colleague enjoy playing the game?
  • How do you think it supported learning?

Activity 2: Playing the game in class

Play the same game with your students. If you have a large class and you can make more sets of the cards, they can all play in groups. If you do not have access to more resources to make more sets then choose one group to play with for this activity.

Explain how to play and let them play the game once or twice, observing how they play each time. Do not interact with them at all once they understand the rules.

Pause for thought

  • Did the students enjoy the game?
  • What did they learn from it? How do you know this?
  • What benefits do you think this game could have for all your students, especially those who find learning more difficult?

Playing games to help clarify concepts and to reinforce learning is an enjoyable and inclusive approach that you could take. It will give those students who are unsure and less confident the chance to develop their self-belief and learn from their peers. Case Study 1 uses another type of game and shows how students respond.

Case Study 1: Lighting a bulb game

Mrs Vijay explains how, by playing a game, she helps her students to distinguish whether circuits are incomplete or complete and therefore light the bulb.

I was a little nervous about teaching electricity, but finding some simple equipment in an old science resource box gave me confidence to do some demonstrations to show them how it worked.

I then used a game to help my students consolidate their understanding of a circuit. I was introduced to the game at a support session at the local DIET Centre and I was keen to have a go. I planned my lesson in two parts. The first was to give the students time to help me light the bulb using just one cell (battery), one bulb and one piece of wire. This took some time but we did it eventually. Next I asked them whether I could use a second piece of wire. I asked them for ideas and did what they said until we got the bulb to light.

As I wanted to help them understand better how to build a circuit, I used the game I had made, a game based on observation and picking up pieces to make their own circuits. [See Resource 3 about how to make and play this game.] I made one set of pieces for the game and three students made the other sets during their break.

I explained to the class how to play the game and showed them the rules, which I had written on a piece of flipchart paper and stuck to the wall. As they played I went round to see how they were managing and helped explain some problems such as whether their answers were right, or asked questions about circuits to help them enjoy playing the task and to assist their learning. [See Resource 4, ‘Monitoring and giving feedback’, for more information.] The winner in each group was the person with the most number of complete circuits. The students were totally engrossed in their games and I did not have to interact at all towards the end as they were helping each other.

At the end of the lesson I asked the students to write a sentence to say what they thought a circuit was. I also asked if they had enjoyed the game and was delighted at their positive attitude and by their comments about how it helped them to learn about and remember circuits.

Pause for thought

  • Have you ever thought of using such games in your science lessons?
  • Do you think you could use this game in your classroom?
  • How would you have to adapt the game to play it with your class?

After first demonstrating how to light a bulb, Mrs Vijay used her game to help reinforce her students’ understanding. But she also wanted to develop her students’ confidence in themselves as learners. As she did not have enough resources for all students to work with bulbs, wires and cells (batteries) in her lesson, she had to be creative.

Why this approach is important

2 Being resourceful