CHED - 864

Games with Natural Rules for Teaching and Reinforcing Chemistry Concepts.

Judith Herzfeld, Dept. of Chemistry, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA.

Novel games can be designed by adopting rules that mimic chemical phenomenology. Playing such games teaches and reinforces chemical rules, rather than simply testing knowledge of them. Several such games have been developed at Brandeis University. "Nucleogenesis",* a nuclear chemistry game, is played on a nuclear isotope chart with die-driven fusion and bombardment reactions, followed by moves corresponding to spontaneous decay of unstable products. Students learn the topology of the nuclear isotope chart, including decay modes in different regions, and the results of fusion and decay reactions. "Depletion (Molecular Economics)",* a kinetics game, is played on a multi-step reaction pathway. The barrier height for each step, depends on whether catalyst has been purchased. Crossing a barrier requires exceeding the barrier height by a throw of two or three dice, depending on whether heat has been purchased. Chemicals are "processed" through the pathway in batches, the purchase cost of which rises in proportion to the ratio of wastes (previously played batches) to resources (as yet unplayed batches). Students learn the kinetic significance of catalysis and temperature, as well some economic imperatives that lead to rapid exploitation of resources. (* © Judith Herzfeld, 1996)