Researchers at the University of Cambridge developed a new video game that will help teenagers to understand electricity. It features a series of puzzles in order to encourage more of them to study engineering at university.
The video game was called Wired. It is available for download and play starting this week. The game teaches the key mathematical concepts underpinning electricity. The problem with teaching electricity is that it is abstract, hard to visualize, and requires a lot of practice to master.
“A video game is an ideal way to teach students about electricity as it allows players to visualize the underlying concepts and the relationships between them,” said Diarmid Campbell from Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, and the game’s designer. “It provides a structure for incremental challenges, each one building on previous ones, and there is a set of tried and tested motivational techniques that can encourage people to push through tricky areas.”
Players of the game will have an opportunity to get a basic understanding of circuits, the logic of switches, voltage, current, and resistance. They will solve problems by wiring up circuits, so they will get practical experience.
“Most educational games are delivered through the classroom and only need to be more fun than the lesson they are replacing,” said Campbell. “Wired will be delivered through gaming websites, so it needs to be at least as fun as other video games that people play. We are not gamifying education; we are edu-fying, and perhaps even edifying a game.”
Campbell believes that most of the students get some understanding of physic concepts through their daily life. For instance, children know the basics of gravity and projectiles from playing with balls. However, they cannot do the same with the electricity, because it is invisible. Therefore, they do not have practical intuition. Students can learn mathematics, but may not know how to apply it.
According to Campbell, Wired bridges this gap, giving players an intuitive understanding of how electricity behaves and gets players solving problems that are not usually encountered until A-level physics.