Learners will be able to identify a variety of factors and processes pertaining to rock formation, rock types, and the rock cycle. The overall instructional goal of The Rock Cycle Race is to provide practice and reinforcement for sixth-grade science students regarding this instructional objective.
In the state of California, curriculum frameworks focus on teaching Earth Science at the sixth-grade level (http://www.cde.ca.gov/board/pdf/science.pdf). The learning standards established for sixth-grade students in San Diego City Schools (http://www-internal.sandi.net/standards/HTML/SciK12.html) is typical for many districts and include developing an understanding of the earth's structure as well as the processes that shape the earth.
The Rock Cycle Race supports these standards. Students play this game by following paths that replicate the processes of the rock cycle. Students advance on the board by successfully answering questions designed to test and reinforce their understanding of these processes and the rock types created from these processes.
The game targets middle-school students taking integrated physical science which includes a unit on Earth materials, specifically rocks and the rock cycle. In California schools, this content is presented to sixth-grade students ranging in age from 11 to 12 years. Generally, students will have had little prior knowledge regarding rocks and the rock cycle.
The game is designed to be played in a middle-school science classroom. Few accommodations are needed to play The Rock Cycle Race. Table or floor space is needed to set up and play the game. The game can be played once during a 50 minute middle-school class period by three players, or by six players with three teams of two students. Students will need approximately five minutes to set up the board and five minutes to clean up with actual play time lasting between 30 and 35 minutes.
The Rock Cycle Race is a race board game in which players move along the path of the rock cycle. All players begin at "Start" and the first to reach "Finish" wins the game. The playing path is divided into board spaces that provide players with a choice in the direction of the path taken as well as shortcuts and obstacles.
Players advance along the board by correctly answering question cards. Each question card has two levels of questions-"Rock Questions" and the more difficult "Boulder Questions". The Boulder level questions allow players to advance more board spaces. Before the question is read, the player chooses the level of question she/he will try to answer.
Inside the game box, you will find the following objects
The Playing Board
The path for The Rock Cycle Race board is divided into three colors corresponding to the three rock categories - igneous is red, sedimentary is blue, and metamorphic is green.
There are also three types of question cards corresponding to the three kinds of rocks - igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. The three types of cards use the same color plan as the board path. Players answer questions that match the path section they are in. For example, if a player is in the Metamorphic section (green) they answer questions from the Metamorphic Rock Question cards (also green).
Each card contains two questions: a "Rock Question" (an easy level) and a "Boulder Question," (a more difficult level). The "Rock Question" allows the player to advance 1 to 3 spaces if answered correctly. The "Boulder Question" allows the player to advance 4 to 5 spaces. If the player answers the question incorrectly, she/he will be penalized by the same number of spaces she/he would have been rewarded.
A typical game can be played once during a 50 minute middle-school class period by three players, or alternatively, six players with three teams of two players. Students will need approximately five minutes to set up the board and five minutes to clean up. Actual play will last 30 to 35 minutes.
Open the board and place the three types of question cards, Igneous, Sedimentary, and Metamorphic, face down on the designated areas on the board.
We designed the game to accommodate various numbers of players and types of students.
Ellington, Addinall, and Percival (1982) discuss the 'snakes and ladders' class of board games and points to The Great Blood Race as a good example of a game that teaches students about the human circulatory system. It occurred to us that such a format could easily support the learning of systems, processes, and cycles found in science. We decided to focus on the rock cycle since one of our team members had a background in earth science and could serve as a subject matter expert.
We gathered background information on the game's content through both web searches and using grade-appropriate text books used in local San Diego schools. The game board was based on an image we found at http://duke.usask.ca/~reeves/prog/geoe118/geoe118.011.html. We also contacted an earth science teacher to review the questions for content and appropriateness. To determine the conduct of the play, we held brainstorming and play trial sessions.
Initially, we intended for players to use a spinner to determine the level of difficulty for each question. However, we soon realized that this was contrary to the literature regarding motivational theory. Keller & Suzuki (1988) point out that one element critical to motivating students is their confidence. Although there are many dimensions to confidence, they state that three of the most important are perceived competence, perceived control, and expectancy for success. Allowing players to select the difficulty of each question supports these dimensions, particularly the latter two. In addition, allowing players to choose levels of questions, and consequently the number of spaces they can move, increases the risk factor for players. Players must strategize. Also, by basing the movement of their pieces on questions about the rock cycle, players are encouraged/motivated to increase their knowledge of the rock cycle in order to win.
Books & Journals
D., Butler, L., Hixson, B. & Matthias, W. (1999).
Glencoe science: An introduction to the life, earth, and
physical sciences. Woodland Hills, CA:
G. R. (1990). The catalyst collection: outstanding
earth/space science activities. Fullerton, CA: The
National Science Foundation. Feather,
Jr., R. M. & Snyder, S. L. (1997). Glencoe earth
science (Teacher wraparound ed.). New York:
J. M., & Suzuki, K. (1988). Use of the ARCS
motivation model in courseware design. In D. H. Jonassen
(Ed.). Instructional designs for microcomputer
courseware. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence
Blaustein, D., Butler, L., Hixson, B. & Matthias, W. (1999). Glencoe science: An introduction to the life, earth, and physical sciences. Woodland Hills, CA: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.
Carlson, G. R. (1990). The catalyst collection: outstanding earth/space science activities. Fullerton, CA: The National Science Foundation.
Feather, Jr., R. M. & Snyder, S. L. (1997). Glencoe earth science (Teacher wraparound ed.). New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.
Keller, J. M., & Suzuki, K. (1988). Use of the ARCS motivation model in courseware design. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.). Instructional designs for microcomputer courseware. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Last updated October 21, 2000