I know I've been writing about the arts a lot lately, which is the area that has been the focus of our summer. However, we'll always doing other fun and interesting things as well. My son pointed out that I hadn't written about something we've been doing for our science curriculum: WolfQuest, an online game that teaches students about wolves.
WolfQuest, which was developed by the Minnesota Zoo and EduWeb, you learn about the lives of wolves by becoming one. NO, I don't mean the trendy thing about becoming a werewolf; rather, the game is a 3D wildlife simulation where you play the role of a virtual wolf. You set your own genetics--would you rather be stronger or faster? would you rather be reddish or greyish?--then try to survive as a wolf in Yellowstone Park.
There are two formats for the game. You can play the game by yourself on your own computer, where you must master such tasks as finding and hunting down food, attract a mate, find a den, and raise your cubs while protecting them from predators like coyotes and grizzly bears. Or you can play the multi-player version online, where you and up to four other players can form a pack and work together to hunt and raise your families. In the multi-player version, you can either hook up with other players in a public game, or you can establish a private game with people you know. This makes WolfQuest a great game to introduce students to multi-player games if you are nervous about Internet security and such.
WolfQuest has a variety of educational materials available on the website, as well as an active online community where students can ask questions about the species from actual wolf biologists. But the students I've seen play so far are mostly learning through the trial and error method of trying to keep their virtual wolf alive and reproducing successfully. And the multi-player pack version can also teach them some valuable lessons about working as a team--a great skill to have whether you are a wolf or a human!
Oh, and I forgot to mention--the whole thing is FREE! It's really well done, it conveys a lot of scientific content in a fun and engaging way, and the price is certainly right.
It certainly has been a big hit in our household.