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Playing games and learning science

The start of a new unit is always exciting, and even more so when the first lesson involves playing a board game.  On Wednesday, students in Grade 12 biology were introduced to metabolic processes through the scientifically accurate game, Cytosis
In this game, students simulate the process of building enzymes, hormones, and hormone receptors as they place flask-shaped markers on a cell depicted on the gameboard.  Using their vesicles, students race to transport macromolecules (such as carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids) through the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus before finally sending off their hormone or hormone receptor through the plasma membrane. 
Throughout the gameplay, students are reinforcing the importance of biological molecules, while also reviewing their prior knowledge of the functions of organelles in a eukaryotic cell. Moreover, the students are actively engaged in every step of hormone synthesis, from the translation of mRNA to proteins all to way to the use of ATP molecules in the process of exocytosis. 
The use of board games is a fun way to introduce students to new topics in the science classroom. Recently in Grade 11, the biology students learned about animal adaptations through a species building game called Evolution (which was also enjoyed by SACFlex students as an app on their smartphones).  The board game, Evolution, was featured in the scientific journal, Nature, and has been used in the evolutionary biology department at the University of Oxford.
Games provide an excellent medium for students to be active learners, and they can also help make complex concepts more enjoyable to learn.  Try playing Cytosis to infuse a bit of science into your next family game night!
Story by Jessica Zhou, Faculty, Science Department
St. Andrew's College
15800 Yonge Street, Aurora, ON L4G 3H7 Canada
Tel: 905-727-3178