How Computer Games Help
Chapter 2: Knowledge:Digital Zoo
B. Bentley, B. Patel and S. Williams
Game designed by Gina Svarovsky
● Two studies were done using different
groups of kids to play the game Digital Zoo.
This game simulated engineering & physics.
Trial & Error
The study followed the experiences through
interviews, video, journaling.
Trial and Error took place in order to learn the
proper mechanics of building different objects
and them being strong enough during
What Can A Player Do?
Students were able to answer questions using vocabulary
and concepts that they wouldn’t learn for several years.
They could answer physics problems, describe advanced
engineering concepts and they could apply their knowledge
to other aspects of their life.
The game also increased their interest in technology.
The concept of digital thinking is that students
will acquire knowledge and be able to use the
knowledge in real world application. It tries to
move students away from just memorizing
vocabulary and formulas, but not knowing how
to apply them in appropriate situations.
Digital thinking pushes student to be thinkers and helps to
improve their abilities to be well rounded individual. The
assumption is that they will be able to take knowledge from
one concept and apply it in another area. They will also be
successful as adults because they will have a wealth of
knowledge obtained through digital learning that will help
them to be part of teams known as cross-functional teams.
Knowing and Thinking
Knowing is having the knowledge of words,
phrase, pictures, and symbols. Thinking is the
ability to use those things in a useful and
purposeful manner. What it means to know
changes over time, as what it means to think
Computers and Digital Thinking
Computers have the unique ability to complete
any task in which an a set of specific rules can
Digital literacy requires not just reading and
writing, but the ability to problem solve using
In today’s society, the world is driven by technology. Even simple math
algorithms that were taught in the past are no longer essential for students to
learn because of computers.
Cognitive scientist Gavriel Salmon believes that “we should earn to do things by
hand because only then do we really understand them” (pg. 66).
The author proposes that computers complete tasks that are standardized,
therefore in an age of globable competion it is imperative that students are
taught innovative thinking skills. They need to learn how “to use computers to
do things that neither person nor machine can do alone” (pg. 66).
All computer programs are simulations, they allow the
players or users to manipulate them through code and
Simulations allows students to learn through mistakes.
Students that use these programs can make a mistake, fix it,
and if necessary try again and repeat the process until it is
SodaConstructor allows the users to learn through this
process because it is a simulation. It took students several
attempts to figure out how to make their structures not
collapse, and through this process they learned the basics of
physics and engineering.
Main Point: A computer game can force students to think
in ways that matter in the real world which is difficult to
do through lecture and a textbook.
Question for Discussion
Find a game that could be adapted into your
curriculum. How would you use this game
with your students? What would they be able
to learn through this program?