Monday, February 16, 2009

Electric Field Hockey

When Rio received its first year of the Digital High School (DHS) grant in 2001, I was ready to go. It seemed that the rest of the world had moved into the Computer Age and my classroom had been left behind.

One of the software titles I got through DHS was Electric Field Hockey 3. But even in 2001, EFH was long in the tooth and, it seemed, abandoned by its publisher. The program came on an old-style floppy disk. I worked around that and installed it on our new iBooks. EFH was a port from another computing platform, and it showed. Apple's interface guidelines were not adhered to. Still though, the program was so much fun that the idiosyncrasies could be overlooked.

In 2006, our long-obsolete iBooks were due for replacement. With the transition to Intel-based MacBooks came the loss of all so-called "Classic" applications, programs that were designed for Apple's Mac OS 9 and earlier. We actually kept the iBooks around so we could play Electric Field Hockey.

One of the many reasons we needed to replace our 2000-era iBooks with 2006-era MacBooks was that some very groovy apps were coming along that required Apple's modern OS X to run. Such was the case with the PhET simulations.

PhET includes a facsimile of the original Electric Field Hockey. And it's well done! But it lacks the competitive gameplay of the original.

I wrote a student activity to accompany PhET's EFH and restore the competition angle. Teams compete against the clock, not against one another. Students find the activity to be highly engaging, and they do learn a few things along the way.

Here's a link to PhET's Electric Field Hockey.

Here's a link to my corresponding Quest for the Coulomb Cup activity.

Let me know if you find any typos!


Anonymous said...

Note that PhET has an extensive online list of teacher-developed activities to go with the simulations here:

Please consider submitting your activity to the list, Dean! The online form is here:

Our research has found that such "semi-guided" activities (a little guidance, not too much) helps students learn best from the sims.

Dean Baird said...