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K-State Today

November 11, 2014



Two educational games the topic of discussion Wednesday

By Rosemary Talab

Nathan Bean, coordinator in computing and information science, will present an educational game double feature at noon Wednesday, Nov. 12, in 342 Bluemont Hall. The presentation will discuss SmartFarm using Scratch, a K-12 programming platform, for farming practice simulations and Sifteo Cubes that communicate wirelessly with each other for kinetic learning for phonemic awareness for children.

The SmartFarm software allows students to simulate a farm, planning their own agricultural practices, planting crops, applying chemicals, irrigating, rotating, tilling, harvesting, etc. But that's just the surface level, as students can — and are encouraged to — investigate and reprogram the models driving the simulation using a Scratch-like programming interface. By modifying the models underlying the simulation students can use inquiry to explore how nutrients and pollutants move through an ecosystem, experiment with altering crop characteristics, and develop scientific and statistical modeling skills.

Sifteo Cubes are a distributed computing platform where multiple cubes — about the size of an iPod Nano — communicate wirelessly with one another and use sensors to determine when they are moved, touched and placed next to one another. This makes them an ideal interface for kinetically-based learning. Computer science undergraduate seniors, in partnership with faculty and students in the College of Engineering, are developing applications that run on this platform for developing phonemic awareness in early childhood — an important stepping stone to literacy — and understanding the atomic interactions involved in forming molecules.