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A Plot from the Stars: educational game development for teaching basic mathematical functions

Grant number: 17/06661-0
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2017
Effective date (End): June 30, 2018
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Computer Science - Computer Systems
Principal researcher:Claudio Fabiano Motta Toledo
Grantee:Gabriel Toschi de Oliveira
Home Institution: Instituto de Ciências Matemáticas e de Computação (ICMC). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Carlos , SP, Brazil

Abstract

This scientific initiation project consists of developing an electronic educational puzzle game to serve as a tool in math teaching, specifically about basic mathematical functions, for high school and university students, entitled "A Plot from the Stars". The use of electronic games as educational tools is recent, as the consolidation of the electronic game industry in the technological market. With the creation of modern and accessible game development tools in the last years, electronic games emerge as an alternative with high educational potential. Since the 70s, electronic games are conquering the educational scope with titles like "The Oregon Trail" and the "Carmen Sandiego" series, and, recently, with games like "Logical Journey of the Zoombinis" and "Lure of the Labyrinth". The mathematical aspects that will be explored in "A Plot from the Stars" are the basic mathematical functions (like straight lines, parabolas, exponential curves or logarithm curves, for example). Specifically, the game will explore the behavior of these functions in the set of real numbers and their graphs, in a Cartesian coordinate system, besides other concepts in this scope, like domain, image, constants, quadrants, and asymptotes. In the puzzles of the game, the player/student will be encouraged to use these concepts to solve a lot of logic challenges. The story of the game is set in a space defense station; the player/student assumes the role of a new member in the station. The game progression will the growth of the character as a member of the team, accomplishing tasks and solving the challenges. The game development will consist, firstly, of the study of game design modern techniques and educational methods of the use of digital games, looking for the most functional approaches in each scope. The prototyping and production of "A Plot from the Stars" will be made in the Unity game engine, used for professional game development projects, and will be launched for computers with Windows and Linux-based operating systems; versions for handheld devices could be developed too. The game will be evaluated by efficacy in schools and compared with other educational games available in the market. (AU)

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