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ERIC Number: EJ1172019
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018-Mar
Pages: 3
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Learning the Rules of the Game
Smith, Donald A.
Physics Teacher, v56 n3 p146-148 Mar 2018
Games have often been used in the classroom to teach physics ideas and concepts, but there has been less published on games that can be used to teach scientific thinking. D. Maloney and M. Masters describe an activity in which students attempt to infer rules to a game from a history of moves, but the students do not actually play the game. Giving the list of moves allows the instructor to emphasize the important fact that nature usually gives us incomplete data sets, but it does make the activity less immersive. E. Kimmel suggested letting students attempt to figure out the rules to Reversi by playing it, but this game only has two players, which makes it difficult to apply in a classroom setting. Kimmel himself admits the choice of Reversi is somewhat arbitrary. There are games, however, that are designed to make the process of figuring out the rules an integral aspect of play. These games involve more people and require only a deck or two of cards. I present here an activity constructed around the card game Mao, which can be used to help students recognize aspects of scientific thinking. The game is particularly good at illustrating the importance of falsification tests (questions designed to elicit a negative answer) over verification tests (examples that confirm what is already suspected) for illuminating the underlying rules.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A