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Energising learning through board games

In our Primary Years Programme (PYP) science class, we explored different concepts related to energy. We learned about what energy is, the different types of fuels and their uses, renewable and non-renewable energy resources, and how living things use energy. At the end of the unit, we had a task that asked us a challenging question:  

“How can the energy from the Sun, which was formed millions of years ago, be turned into electricity today?” 

To help my students understand and appreciate the impact of energy in our lives, I had to decide, should we move on to a new topic or find a better way to improve our understanding? I explored a different approach to teaching and learning that would engage all my students and leave a lasting impact; that’s when the concept of creating a board game emerged. 

Why a board game?

It turns out that educational games can be a fantastic way to learn. They encourage us to use our observation skills and think critically, which is important for deepening our understanding. By playing a game, we can connect with the concepts on a personal level while still following the rules and learning what we need to know. 

Our teacher designed a board game called “Electropoly – Journey of energy from the Sun to an electric bulb.” It was inspired by the popular game Monopoly. The game had a simple design where students could progress through various stages, representing the journey of energy. Visuals on the board helped them visualize the concepts and made learning more exciting. The game brought all the isolated ideas about energy together and helped them see the connections between them. 

Measurable results

Playing the game was a lot of fun. Students played in groups of four and used game pieces, dice, play money, and cards with information about energy. The cards guided them along the path and provided them with facts and key points about energy. They had to read the information aloud and discuss it within their group. There were also checkpoints where they could earn rewards or face challenges. 

I played the role of a monitor and facilitator during the game, listening to the conversations and taking note of any misconceptions. After the game, students discussed what they learned, reflected on the concepts, and addressed any misunderstandings. This helped them consolidate our knowledge and understand energy better. 

The game had a significant impact on student learning. When they were assessed on the same question later, they showed remarkable improvement and were able to use scientific vocabulary, draw diagrams, write explanations, and confidently described how the Sun’s energy can be transformed into electricity. It was clear that the game had helped everyone understand and remember the concepts more effectively. 

Overall, the board game engaged students, encouraged critical thinking, and made the concepts come alive. Learning through games is a lot of fun, and it helps students grasp complex ideas in an enjoyable way. 

Arush has 14 years of diverse experience in the field of education.  She works with young children for her passion of teaching and learning among them.  She is currently working as a cover teacher and an assistant in Fairgreen International School, UAE. Arush is also a student of Master of Education in advance teaching at the University of the People (UoP). She is passionate about researching more pedagogical approaches.

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