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Deductive reasoning and biology made fun!

Educational Game Review: ‘I’ve Got a Theory’ from Game-Framed Math & Science

I’ve Got a Theory (Biology Edition) is part of the Game-Framed Math & Science project by Hostos Community College and Colmena Design. The principle behind the project was to take concepts typically addressed in the classroom environment that are often difficult for first-time learners or remedial students and approach them in a more concrete fashion through gamification.

igatcoverBiology is definitely one of the more troublesome classes a student may tackle, with the many different aspects of the life sciences. The Biology Edition of I’ve Got a Theory presents players with a unique, fairly adorable narrative: Each player is a newborn animal on a literal journey of self-discovery. They must determine what creatures they are before they can join their proper animal families.

The basic mechanic of I’ve Got a Theory works in the same manner as Twenty Questions or the classic party game Who am I? Players must deduce through a series of questions, eliminating impossibilities and gaining hints. Players are dealt a list of potential animals and a hand of Attribute cards they may look at. They are also dealt an Animal card, although they do not look at it. Instead, they show it to everyone else, who will tell them “yes” or “no” answers to their questions through the game.

igatgameRather than “guessing,” players work through the scientific method of observation and testing a hypothesis. As their turns come, players may draw an Attribute card and discard one previously held, present a hypothesis (“I propose my animal reproduces with eggs”), or present a theory to try to win the game, listing their correct previous hypotheses and then stating what animal they are.

What sets I’ve Got a Theory apart from similar games is its points system. Getting a hypothesis correct results in a free draw from the Attribute deck. Correctly naming one’s animal through a theory ends the game and awards four points. However, players add up the Attribute cards in their hands and are awarded two points for each one matching their animal. Players may race to guess their animals only to find that someone else has been more carefully stocking their hand to win the game. To master IGAT, players will have to not only determine their own animals but keep track of opponents getting correct answers and eagerness to draw fresh cards, seeking more points.

igatgameI’ve Got a Theory (Biology Edition) is a game for 10 to 25 players aged 10 and up. With each player taking a turn, there will be a big difference between groups with fewer players and those with more. A small number of players may wish to play several quick rounds to get a full feel of it. With a wide variety of animals, including blue poison frogs, African aardvarks, macaws, and electric eels, players may be unfamiliar with certain ones and their exact habitats, but the game encourages them to look up the animal with some quick research, adding a whole new level of learning and discovery.

IGAT also comes in a Chemistry Edition that gives each player an element from the periodic table with a similar journey of self-discovery to follow.

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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