A mobile phone and web-based gaming activity that embeds physics learning into the core of its application, Newtoon is a collaborative project between UK-based Futurelab and Soda Creative that is designed to encourage children to create, play, edit and share micro-games based on Newton's laws of physics.
By motivating children to make use of their own phones for learning and encouraging mobile applications within the classroom, the project aims to offer teachers an engaging and exciting new tool for education, as well as hopefully inspiring students to involve science into their lives outside the school walls. There are two key aspects; the 'microlab' which allows teachers to demonstrate and explain physics principles, and the 'microgame' allows pupils and teachers to create their own games based on these principles, explained in the scenarios give on their website:
A science teacher is anxious about KS3 Unit 8J: Magnets and electromagnets. She wonders how she can excite her pupils about the world of magnetism. The teacher launches Newtoon on the whiteboard and searches for a tutorial on 'magnets'. She opens a research microlab and by moving and rotating the bar magnet, she demonstrates that the ferrous bar always attracts while the bar magnet both attracts and repels depending on polarity. On their desktops, the pupils then select 'dog's dinner', a micro-game which explores magnets. Racing against the clock, the pupils steer a dog towards the bone, avoiding the magnetic forces.
During the science lesson, all the pupils' games are collected into a game-carousel at the Newtoon website. At home, a pupil, Laura loads the game-carousel onto her mobile phone and challenges her family to play her creations. "How does it work?" her mum asks. Laura explains that her game, 'dream-date', uses magnetic variables to make her game characters attract and repel each other depending on how 'cute' they are, using pictures she has imported from the internet. She then shows her mum that her game has been the most played by her classmates, and that she has improved in her understanding of physics
Having been prototype tested in schools around the UK already this year, and with trails due to launch any day now, this is an exciting new system for the future of learning that may finally begin to bring about the materialisation of the much-deliberated re-think to the tenets of teaching.
'The evolution of a gaming community has the potential to invoke an interactive and collaborative classroom culture with doing, debating and deliberating science at its heart. This will involve exploring the possibilities of a 21st century science curriculum.'
Newtoon is a mobile phone and web activity which aims to embed physics learning in mobile gaming. It enables young people to author, play, edit and share fast-paced microgames for their mobile phones, where game rules are based on a set of Newtonian physics principles.