Genigames

The​ Concord Consortium and ​the New York Hall of Science created an an online genetics game to investigate ​how incorporating elements of gaming into science curricula ​could help increase students' engagement, motivation to learn, and science aspirations. Results of the study are still under analysis. However, it's already clear that students playing Genigames learned genetics and had fun doing it!

As students play Genigames, they learn about patterns of inheritance and meiosis. In this inventive game, students breed dragons for townspeople as they travel from town to town. Each town presents new traits, new genes, and new patterns of genetic inheritance in the form of puzzles. By observing and then controlling meiosis, students strive to earn enough of the coin of the realm to buy a breeding license for the next town along the trail to the game's finale, the silly Renaissance Fair. Students enjoy competing with each other for high scores, and an amusing, taunting narrative guides them as they confront challenges.

To get through all five towns, players must make decisions based on the probability of inheriting a combination of genetic variations. Along the way, they also learn about crossing over (genetic recombination), random assortment of chromosomes, and simple and complex genetic inheritance. To play, visit the Genigames Home Page.

Principal Investigators

Frieda Reichsman
Cornelia Brunner

Project Inquiries

freichsman@concord.org

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DRL-1109687. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

The Genigames curriculum materials provide teachers with outlines of the genetics and interactive elements of the game as well as supplemental classroom activities and worksheets to support student learning. Using a genome based on accurate, real world genetics, students make intentional breeding decisions with phenotypically and genotypically different dragons called drakes. As each new inheritance pattern is introduced, students must revise their thinking to make judicious decisions between paying game "dollars" to control inheritance, or letting the alleles (gene variants) fall where they may. Teachers facilitate student learning by ushering in deeper thinking and real-world contexts for the challenges and achievements students make in the game world.

Unit Aim

Students use this unit to connect to what they already know about cells, DNA and sexual reproduction, develop their understanding of how genetic information results in the production of phenotypically and genotypically unique individuals, and incorporate knowledge of meiosis and patterns of inheritance to answer the Driving Questions: “How are traits distributed to offspring?” and “How does [selective] breeding produce unique individuals with specific traits?”

Curricular materials

Download PDFs of the materials for teachers free of charge: 
Genigames Curriculum Guide
Worksheets for Genigames Curriculum
Portal Users Guide for Genigames 

Or, download these 3 guides bundled together with a pre-post assessment for Genigames by accesing the Genigames Teachers Guide, available to teachers who register in Concord's Learn Portal (free of charge).

The GeniGames software is free and open to everyone. Teachers who wish to group students into a class and be able to reset passwords (if students forget them) should register at Concord's Learn Portal, and create a class for their students to join. Students can join a class by simply signing up at the GeniGames home page, or by registering at Concord's Learn Portal. Individuals who wish to play independently can simply sign up at the GeniGames home page.

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