Cool new physics game

It’s interesting to see what folks are doing with Flash these days. This one touches on video game nostalgia as well as the whole educational game genre, so I thought it was appropriate to mention it:

FantasticContraption is a physics-based game where you create very simple physics devices in order to accomplish a goal ala the old “The Incredible Machine”. But it’s Flash-based, so you don’t have to download anything. And there are some interesting twists with water rods and wooden rods as construction pieces. Check it out, it’s very addictive!

Way back when we were developing the Progress Portfolio in the mid-90s, The Incredible Machine was a candidate investigation environment. We were looking for software environments where students were conducting extended investigations and would need to create annotated records of the work they were doing. The Incredible Machine almost fit the bill, but while it was based on Newtonian physics, it was difficult to get students to connect what they were trying to physics principles. Instead it just encouraged endless tweaking until something worked. While it may have been interesting to see how visual annotations (e.g. being able to point to something while talking/writing about it) would make it easier to create a record of your work in The Incredible Machine, we ended up working with investigations in Interactive Physics, which was much more connected to physics principals and less game-like. Interestingly, students had the same tendency to endlessly tweak.

posted September 11, 2008 by ben

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