Science fun is on the cards
WARWICK science teacher and gaming enthusiast Simon Hamlet has merged two of his passions together and developed an educational scientific game for primary school students.
The card game, Solar System Happy Families, is based on the popular and traditional Happy Families games and has been designed to fit in with the Australian Curriculum for Year 5 students.
Mr Hamlet, who currently teaches at Yangan State School, has a background in environmental impact studies and worked at the Hermitage research facility outside Warwick for nine years in the plant physiology program.
He describes himself as a game geek.
"I've always loved card games and board games," he said.
"And they're a great way to learn by osmosis, you may not realise because you're having fun but you're also learning along the way," he said.
The idea for the game came from seeing the success of a similar idea developed by Mr Hamlet's colleague, agronomist David Hardwick.
"He had this game called A Day in the Life of Soil," Mr Hamlet said.
"The game used cards and lollies to simulate parts of the soil ecosystem and the lollies were used to represent nutrients moving through the soil.
"He actually used the game to educate farmers at field days and it worked really well."
Mr Hamlet said it gave him a boost to see how he could make complex things accessible to almost everyone.
"That was the hook for me," he said.
"And of course the use of lollies ensured attention and worked really well in a classroom setting."
Mr Hamlet said Year 5 students were introduced to solar system studies, which was the inspiration behind his development of the game.
"Kids love playing games and this is a way of engaging them," he said.
"I designed 11 sets of four cards from a certain family, say inner rocky planets or gas giants.
"The cards are shuffled and dealt out and the idea is to collect as many full sets of four as you can.
"I've had some wonderful feedback already with kids saying it's a great way to find out things they didn't know about our solar system.
"It's a great way to show the diversity of the way space is explored and how science has been a part of that."
The game is available for free download with instructions on Mr Hamlet's blog at http://pointofwonder.