Education Connection

Passing on information to others interested in STEM education

Atom Builder Game

November5

The Atom Builder Game is a design in progress, which will allow the user to click an element on a hovering periodic chart to build an atom by placing the correct number of neutrons, protons, and electrons, in their places in the atom nucleus and valance rings.

The initial artwork for this program is complete. Paul from WorldViz was able to create the interactive code that I’ve begun to adapt into this program. So far, you can use the 5DT Ultra Sensor Glove to grasp one of the objects (proton, neutron, or electron), and the mouse to, then move the object around and place in a new position. The next step is to adjust the code so the program interacts with the Kinect sensor to move the object around instead of needing to use the mouse. After this, the periodic chart needs to be programs to represent a button press for each element.

Atom Builder Game

Atom Builder Game at initial stages

Here’s where the educational value of these 3D environments begins to take shape!

Once these steps are complete, students (high school and college interns) can begin to become involved in the coding. By replicating what has already been done for the first element in this initial program, students who have completed initial Vizard training can adapt the code for the rest of the elements in the periodic chart. We’ll also need collaboration with Science teachers to be sure we are on the right track.

Another application of this game is the Atom Builder Quiz. Students will be presented with an element name and be asked to place the protons, neutrons, and electrons, in the appropriate place (using the Sensor Glove) to build a model that represents the element.

This will present a greater challenge for students to find code that displays an element, directs the user to build the atom, and checks to see if the model is correct. All this code is in the help and example files that came with the Vizard software.

I’ll guide them to find it, but this is a team design that will involve at least three members. They’ll be challenged to work together to find the answers as they learn from the code examples. Once we get started, it may take them 7 months, 7 weeks, or 7 days. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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