Engineering Education Podcast

« Previous · Next »

Mobile Game and App Reviews

Latest Episode

Episode cover art

Mobile Game and App Reviews

Season 2 · Episode 3

Previous Episodes

Episode cover art

Year in Review/Preview

Season 2 · Episode 1

You Might Also Like...


Pius reviews with Rachel five mobile apps related to engineering education, available on Android and iOS. A ten-year-old guest reviewer also gives her thoughts on some of the games, to get a third perspective. The games were pulled from the top-ranking engineering-themed games listed in app stores as of the beginning of 2017.

Our closing music is from "Late for School" by Bleeptor, used under Creative Commons Attribution Licenses: creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0. Subscribe and find more podcast information at: www.k12engineering.net. The K12 Engineering Education Podcast is a production of Pios Labs: www.pioslabs.com.

Check out “Engineer’s Guide to Improv and Art Games” by Pius Wong on Amazon in print or for Kindle: www.amazon.com/dp/1520634900

It is also available as an ebook on Smashwords: www.smashwords.com/books/view/704613 (Limited time 20% off promo code: EH22M)

Subscribe and leave episode reviews wherever you get your podcasts. Support Pios Labs with regular donations on Patreon, by purchasing digital teaching materials at the Pios Labs curriculum store, or by buying a copy of the reference book Engineer's Guide to Improv and Art Games by Pius Wong. You'll also be supporting educational tools and projects like Chordinates! or The Calculator Gator. Thanks to our donors and listeners for making the show possible. The K12 Engineering Education Podcast is a production of Pios Labs.


Transcript of:

The K12 Engineering Education Podcast


Mobile Game and App Reviews

Release Date:



[Pius Wong] Thank you so much to the generous supporters of this podcast who pledged to donate to the show and to my studio at patreon.com/pioslabs. You make it possible for everyone to listen.

[opening music fades in]

[Rachel Fahrig]  This is The K12 Engineering Education Podcast for February 27, 2017.

[music fades out]

[Rachel] Hi. Welcome, listeners. I am your host today, Rachel Fahrig. You may recognize me as a previous guest on the podcast, and today for a change we’re going to be featuring Pius Wong…

[Pius] Hi.

[Rachel] Hi, Pius – as our guest on today’s podcast. We want to talk a little bit about some really cool games and apps. I think you told me you have four or five to look at.

[Pius] Yeah, I found five cool apps that I think would be nice to bring into your engineering classroom or your STEM classroom.

[Rachel] Sure.

[Pius] And four of them are specifically games. There’s a fifth one that’s not quite a game, but it’s cool and fun, so I wanted to talk about that, too.

[Rachel] All right. What’s the most fun one? Let’s go for the best news first.

[Pius] Yes. OK. So this is a game that I found after checking a lot of the top Android engineering science-type games, and it’s called Brain It On.

[Rachel] I see you what you did there. Brain It On.

[Pius] Puns, yes.

[Rachel] That’s punny.

[Pius] So it’s this one right here. I’m going to show Rachel.

[Rachel] Oh, the smiley face is falling over.

[Pius] Yeah. [laughs] If you’re downloading it right now, you can see what’s going on. I click the play button, and it lets me play. I’m going to turn on the sound here so you can hear it. OK. So I already played through a lot of friggin levels.

[Rachel] [laughs]

[Pius] I flew on the plane the other day, and so on my three-hour ride I just tried to get through as many as possible. Let’s lower that volume now. But the way it works is, you go on to a level, and it asks you to draw a shape. And you can take your finger and draw whatever you want on there, and it appears. And whatever you make immediately comes into existence, and gravity pulls it down. It behaves like a real object. So that was the first level.

[Rachel] Oh, and you get points just for doing what it says.

[Pius] Just for drawing a shape. Yeah. So that’s easy. Level two is…

[Rachel] Make the ball hit the left wall.

[Pius] And so, there’s a picture of this ball hanging on the bottom of my box here.

[Rachel] Yeah, it’s almost like – what’s that arcade game from Atari. You know, where you bounce the ball and the thing slides back and forth? All you people…

[Pius] Pong?

[Rachel] Similar, yeah, only, but that’s not…

[Pius] But here’s the thing. The reason why I say it’s cool for a physics classroom is that gravity is here, unlike in Pong.

[Rachel] Oh.

[Pius] So you’re looking at it from the side, and there’s this ball here. But if I create an object and make it drop, let’s see if I can drop an object on that ball. Oh! And it hits the wall.

[Rachel] It’s like pool, only different.

[Pius] Yeah, you have to drop things into this universe.

[Rachel] What?!

[Pius] And so, I don’t know if you can imagine this, but…

[Rachel] Tilt the shape to the right. So what’s in front of me is, it looks kind of like a teeter-totter or a seesaw, and the left side of it is down, and the right side is up in the air.

[Pius] Yeah.

[Rachel] So if I want to tilt it to the right, having been a physics teacher, and also having been on a teeter-totter, I know that I need to apply weight or force to the right-hand side of the teeter-totter.

[Pius] So what would you want to put on there?

[Rachel] I want to put some kind of a weight. Do I make an arrow like you did?

[Pius] Anything you draw becomes an object. Do you want to make a ball or a square?

[Rachel] I want to make a ball.

[Pius] OK. So you can go on there and draw a little ball and see what happens. There you go.

[Rachel] Yeah! [laughs]

[Pius] Now OK. That’s level three. Basically there’s a lot of puzzles. It’s basically a puzzle game, a physics puzzle game, where you have to know about gravity, you have to know about torque and momentum.

[Rachel] You have to know about simple machines.

[Pius] Yeah.

[Rachel] So you could use this – Here in Texas we have some student learning standards about simple machines that are applicable in eighth grade or in IPC, and that would be a really great game for them to especially be able to understand the length of an object for torque. You know, where do you have to apply the pressure versus where the fulcrum is, and that kind of thing.

[Pius] Right. Totally, totally. For me, all I learned – what little I learned about creating curricula back in the day – was that you really need to motivate, or have kids be motivated, to see the need why they want to use certain equations.

[Rachel] Sure.

[Pius] And to me, when I play this, I’m like, oh my gosh. This gives me a very qualitative feel about all these different physical phenomena. And while I was playing it, I’d be like, man, I hate this guess-and-check method. What if I had an equation

[Rachel] Exactly.

[Pius] …to help me figure this out? And so I thought it was cool. And it was super neat to me to just draw something, and the thing exists.

[Rachel] You know, so often in today’s schools, you run out of equipment. You have to share with five other classrooms. Your school has a limited budget, and sometimes the equipment is broken. You have some activities that you can do that are hands-on, but maybe not all the ones that you would like, and this is just a different way of being able to manipulate the information and really see what it means to have circular momentum, or what it means to…

[Pius] Collisions. The…

[Rachel] Yes, all of that.

[Pius] It’s funny. To make a game that actually was fun and addictive to me that was still scientific.

[Rachel] That is a fun game. I might actually download that for my seven-year-old.

[Pius] You totally should. It’s kind of awesome.

[Rachel] It is kind of awesome.

[Pius] So that was the best one for me. For me.

[Rachel] I like it. And that is called again?

[Pius] Brain It On! With an exclamation point.

[Rachel] [laughs]

[Pius] However I will say although it’s free, there are ads. It’s not terrible ads, but, like, just be aware of that.

[musical interlude]

[Pius] OK, I’m recording. You want to say hello?

[Paqita] Hi.

[Pius] Hi. And what’s your name?

[Paqita] Paqita.

[Pius] Can I ask how old are you, and what grade are you in?

[Paqita] Ten, and I’m in fifth grade.

[Pius] Do you like video games?

[Paqita] A lot.

[Pius] A lot. Do you like it more than school.

[Paqita] Maybe. [laughs]

[Pius] Cool. Well, I got you here today, or I’m visiting you, because I wanted you to try out some games that we found, and as adults we thought – well, we had our opinions about it, and we’re wondering what you thought as a real, live child. And you can tell us the good, the bad, total complete truth, OK?

[Paqita] OK.

[Pius] Alright, so the first game is called Brain It On.

[music interlude]

[Pius]OK. So Paqita is drawing little objects next to the ball, which are falling on it slowly and pushing it – Oh, you got it. We’ll play like a couple more levels, and we’ll see what you think.

[Paqita] If you want to get tested or something or find multiple ways to do things, not just one way to do something, it kind of teaches you that. Like, you don’t have to do just one thing. You can do it any, like, any different way.

[Pius] Cool. On a rating on one to ten, what would you give it.

[Paqita] Um. Maybe like an eight, because it’s pretty fun, but then it – probably – I only got to the sixth level, but I was already having a little bit of trouble on number six, until I found out that way to do it. So it’s probably an eight. It’s pretty fun.

[Pius] OK, cool. Thank you.

[Paqita] You’re welcome.

[musical interlude]

[Pius] There are a whole class of games on iOS and Android having to do with gears and gear puzzles and putting gears together. I went through a couple of them. A lot of them aren’t that great. This one, kids might get a kick out of this. It’s called Gears Logic Puzzle, which tells you exactly what it is. It looks like this.

[Rachel] OK. There’s a clock in the top-left, and one gear. Gears Logic is in the middle, and you can play it or pause it or create custom levels.

[Pius] Yeah, and so this is the opening screen. I’m going to raise the volume, so you can hear. Nice little music…

[Rachel] Kind of Jack Johnson-y.

[Pius] Yeah, if you need your kids to think about lying on the beach and playing with gears.

[Rachel] [laughs]

[Pius] So I’m going to click the play button here. We’re going to start on level zero, which is not very hard.

[Rachel] No.

[Pius] You can drag around the wooden gears.

[Rachel] Oh, you can drag them.

[Pius] Yeah. So the idea is, you have a starting gear that’s moving. And the goal is to make -- The moving gear’s green, and all these red gears are still. And you want to make all the red gears move. So how can you put the gears together to make them move?

[Rachel] Oh.

[Pius] And so it’s pretty finicky. You have to get the teeth…

[Rachel] You have to really get it lined up. Oh I did it. Yay!

[Pius] Level zero!

[Rachel] [laughs]

[Pius] So yeah, any questions?

[Rachel] No.

[Pius] Do you think little kids might actually like that?

[Rachel] I think a lot of little kids would like that. I think…

[Pius] Or big kids?

[Rachel]  Well, my instincts says that it might be better for little kids. But you could also use it for foundational knowledge, so if you do have, for example, if you’re in a small school, and you have a complete K-12 STEM initiative, you can start with things like that and then move into the mathematics behind it. You can move into rotation motion. You can move into torque and things like that. So I think that there are opportunities for vertical alignment.

[Pius] OK. Well I’m glad.

[Rachel] I think it’s cute. I like it.

[Pius] So if you want a cute gears game for younger kids mostly, you could look up…

[Rachel] Gears Logic Puzzles.

[musical interlude]

[Rachel] What’s next? What’s Engineer : Cars? Are we saving it for last?

[Pius] No, no.

[Rachel] Is it super fancy?

[Pius] No. Well, kind of.

[Rachel] [laughs]

[Pius] So this app is called Engineers Cars – Engineer Cars, I’m sorry.

[Rachel] Engineer, colon, cars. [laughs]

[Pius] Just to be specific. I wonder if there’s, like, Engineer : Trucks, and Engineer, colon…

[Rachel] Ooh, rollercoasters.

[Pius] No, I only found Engineer : Cars.

[Rachel] Okey-doke.

[Pius] It’s kind of neat. It’s better to play on a bigger screen, like if you have a tablet.

[Rachel] A tablet or something.

[Pius] I’m playing it on my phone just to show what it looks like. There are ads again, but it is free. So you have two options when you start, continue or new game. Let us start a new game.

[Rachel] Excellent.

[Pius] It’s a puzzle game. So the idea is that you’ve got a whole bunch of segments of lines.

[Rachel] Are those pieces?

[Pius] Yes.

[Rachel] And you have to put them together.

[Pius] Well, wait, wait, wait, no.

[Rachel] Oh lord.

[Pius] You’ve got all these lines on the screen, and the idea is that if you rotate these objects in the right way, you can view an image of a car.

[Rachel] Oh. So, it… OK. This is really like STEAM. It’s like… It’s science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, because…

[Pius] Do you see what’s happening?

[Rachel] I do see what’s happening. Oh my gosh.

[Pius] So how would you describe what you saw?

[Rachel] You took a bunch of weird looking lines that were smattered all across the screen of your phone, and you rotated it just using drag technology – so you went up and down and kind of around and left-right, back-forth – and in doing so, what you resulted in was a blueprint of a side view, front view, and rear view of a car.

[Pius] Yeah.

[Rachel] That’s insane.

[Pius] I was thinking, like, especially if you’re a CAD teacher, or you involve CAD…

[Rachel] Yes.

[Pius] …and your kids need to practice 3D visualization…

[Rachel] Yes.

[Pius] …and they need to rotate things in their head, well, you can rotate it in your hands.

[Rachel] Oh my gosh.

[Pius] So do you want to try level two?

[Rachel] Level two. Wow.

[Pius] So we are on a small screen, so it is a little harder.

[Rachel] OK. And so I’ll – There’s and ad. Whoa, I did it that quick. All I did was rotate. Here, let’s restart.

[Pius] OK, so the idea is that there’s this 2D image that’s been cut up and broken up.

[Rachel] Look. Look what I did.

[Pius] You did it.

[Rachel] Oh, I got to go this way.

[Pius] Yeah, that cut-up 2D image is in a whole bunch of pieces in space.

[Rachel] [frustrated noises]

[Pius] And you just have to… [laughs]

[Rachel] Now I’m laughing. My finger’s moving.

[Pius] So you just have to get it close, and when it’s close, you just have to rotate it this way to bring it in line, or in the same plane as your

[Rachel] Come on. I did it!

[Pius] Yeah, so when you get close, it kind of snaps together.

[Rachel] Look at that. OK, and then it says. It’s the schematic for a 2007 Honda Civic.

[Pius] So it’s kind of cool.

[Rachel] That’s crazy.

[Pius] It’s hard to describe.

[Rachel] Those are fun.

[Pius] Yeah. If you’re interested in it, they’re all the same idea. Again, it is called Engineer : Cars, and it’s the icon of like a schematic of a…

[Rachel] Yeah, it’s like a blueprint.

[Pius] And if there are any hardcore games listening, it reminded me of a game called Echochrome a long time ago. I think it was on Playstation or something.

[Rachel] I wouldn’t know.

[Pius] No, but it was a very cool game. That’s the thing. One day I’ve got to show you it.

[Rachel] [laughs]

[Pius] It’s a game, a puzzle game, where you play with perspective, the same idea, where if you look at a bunch of objects in the right way, it looks like something.

[Rachel] I wonder if geometry teachers or, you know, anything where you have to investigate the multiple perspectives of any sort of geometric, three-dimensional geometric object, would be able to use that.

[Pius] Probably.

[Rachel] It would be interesting to hear from them. I’m talking to you, geometry teachers.

[Pius] [laughs] Have you seen those art projects, where, like, they do graffiti or murals on multiple buildings, and the buildings might be on different blocks, and if you look at them in the right way…

[Rachel] Yes.

[Pius] …it turns into this 2D image in front of you?

[Rachel] Yes, I have.

[Pius] There’s a word for that, and I forget what it is.

[Rachel] I don’t know what it is, either, but that’s what it reminds me of.

[Pius] So that’s what it is. Looking at something in the right perspective…

[Rachel] You have to be standing in a certain spot to see what it’s showing you. Yes. I love it.

[Pius] I also think it would be cool if kids made their own puzzles like that. There’s a lot of geometry in that and art.

[Rachel] Sure. They could do 3D models, as well. They could have different groups work on different aspects of it, and when the whole class puts it together, and you stand in a certain spot, you get to see what it is.

[Pius] That’d be cool. The goal of people is to go in the right spot.

[Rachel] You have to go and figure out where the right spot is.

[Pius] That’s cool.

[Rachel] Yeah.

[musical interlude]

[Pius] We’ll click on that icon of a car, and I guess it’s by Steelseed.

[Paqita] Put finger right here.

[Pius] So it’s teaching you how to play.


[Pius] What do you see?

[Paqita] Just drag your finger across the screen to rotate the figure and all of a sudden you’ll notice that lines to make sense. Oh. I see. Sort of.

[musical interlude]

[Pius] How are you feeling when you play this game, Paqita? Or puzzle.

[Paqita] It’s fun, but it’s not as fun as the other one.

[Pius] [laughs] Yeah, you don’t have to be nice. I didn’t make these games.

[Paqita] Oh. Wait, I almost got it. I did it, I did it! Aw, come on!


[Pius] So a commercial just popped up when you got it.

[Paqita] When I just got it.

[Pius] So that is kind of a weird reward.

[Pius] Would you call this a game to you? Is it fun to play?

[Paqita]Um, not… not… no. [laughs] Not as fun as the other games.

[Pius] And if you had to give it a rating from one to ten, what would you give it?

[Paqita] Five.

[Pius] Oh, that’s almost in the negative zone. OK. Well, thank you, Paqita, for your honest opinion.

[musical interlude]

[Pius] I’ve got two more apps if you’re interested.

[Rachel] I am interested. What’s this one in the middle?

[Pius] Truss Me.

[Rachel] Truss Me. Ha.

[Pius] How do you spell that?

[Rachel] T-R-U-S-S, like bridges.

[Pius] Like bridges, exactly. So we’ll do the level one challenge.

[Rachel] Yes, because it’s the easiest.

[Pius] In the very first level, all they show you is, there’s a weight, which is this black ball in the middle. And there are two anchored joints, basically.

[Rachel] OK, like anchor points. Sure.

[Pius] Yeah. This is basically the same symbol you would use in a civil engineering class, actually, so it reminded me very much of my – what’s it called – dynamics of materials or beam classes back in engineering school. But the idea is, you have to join the different nodes together, or the points together, to support the weight.

[Rachel] This is kind of like Gliffy, where you – only instead of creating a diagram…

[Pius] Oh yeah, you’re right.

[Rachel] …or flowcharts…

[Pius] Yeah, Gliffy.com, where you connect flowcharts. Well, here you’re just connecting nodes and weights.

[Rachel] And trying to support them.

[Pius] Yeah. So I’ve connected two beams together, one from the center weight to the two…

[Rachel] One’s top-left, and one is top-right, sort of in a V-pattern.

[Pius] And when I’m ready to test it, I click the little play button and see if it holds. OK it held. I got some points. That’s fine.

[Rachel] Yay.

[Pius] If I wanted to get more points, I could try to make it a thinner beam or something, but let’s go to a more complicated level to show you how this works better.

[Rachel] OK. You do that. How about thirteen?

[Pius] Lucky thirteen.

[Rachel] Yes. So it looks like I have to support these two weights.

[Pius] They’re two big weights, by the way, on the left and the right.

[Rachel] Yeah, they’re bigger than the one that was in level one.

[Pius] Yeah.

[Rachel] And one is on the left side of the screen. One is the right side of the screen. And my anchor points are below the weights, but also closer together toward the center.

[Pius] Yeah. And one of them is totally fixed, and that’s the one on the left.

[Rachel] Oh, is this one rolly?

[Pius] Yeah, the one on the right…

[Rachel] It’s on ball bearings or something.

[Pius] That joint is a linear bearing, basically. And again, it’s the same symbols you would use in your civil engineering classes. Alright, Rachel, we need to support those weights. Where should I attach my beams? Should we try

[Rachel] Well, you’re going to have to attach to the non-moving thing.

[Pius] OK. Yeah. So I’m going to put these together.

[Rachel] No.

[Pius] Let’s try one long beam there.

[Rachel] OK, and I would do another long beam there.

[Pius] From the side, here.

[Rachel] I don’t know. You’ve got to do something there.

[Pius] Let’s connect on the top these two weights together.

[Rachel] OK. And maybe do that one, too.

[Pius] I’ve got this trapezoidal beam pattern.

[Rachel] Sure. So both weights are now connected to both anchors, but one of those anchors moves.

[Pius] So when I click play…

[Rachel] So when he clicks play, and this is my design solution, I am almost guaranteeing 100% failure.

[Pius] What’s going to happen? Let’s watch.

[Rachel] It’s going to fail. It’s going to fail.

[Pius] Click play.


[Rachel] [laughs] It was a great failure. It was tremendous.

[Pius] Now as it fails, you can actually simulate it at different speeds.

[Rachel] Oh, I can see how and why.

[Pius] I’m going to lower the simulation speed and click play again.

[Rachel] Sure.

[Pius] And it broke where?

[Rachel] It broke on that one and here, on both of these.

[Pius] Yeah, the lower supporting beams broke first, not this one that came across.

[Rachel] Not the one across the top. So that one was good. That’s solid. We’re keeping that. But you would have to support…

[Pius] Exactly.

[Rachel] …Put more supporting beams on the supporting beams.

[Pius] Yeah. So there’s actually a principle that you learn in engineering where you shouldn’t really have a whole ton of long beams that are being compressed.

[Rachel] Oh, lots of shorter ones are better.

[Pius] Right, they might bow if they’re too long.

[Rachel] Which is why we have trusses shaped like triangles.

[Pius] Truss me. Hey yo.

[Rachel] [laughs]

[Pius] Anyway. You can spend some time messing with it, and if you progress through the levels, it lets you, you know, look at the strength of triangles, of different truss patterns, and it’s kind of cool. And mostly the reason why I like it is when you click that play button and things break. And you see it break slowly, and you realize, oh, hey, this is where I need to improve it.

[Rachel] So again, in those classrooms that are limited as far as budgets, or as far as materials go, you wouldn’t be wrecking a whole bunch of physical test structures. You wouldn’t have to have your students prototype right away. They could test their prototypes this way and then determine what is their final build going to look like.

[Pius] Well, sort of, yes, and no. So here’s the thing about this game. Notice there are no real numbers attached to these things.

[Rachel] Sure. Yeah.

[Pius] Like, you can’t get weights or moduli of elasticity…

[Rachel] Or distance.

[Pius] Basic things. So it’s very qualitative in that respect. All those numbers, and gravity, and all that stuff, it’s in here in the program, but it doesn’t tell you what it is.

[Rachel] Sure. It’s conceptual.

[musical interlude]

[Pius] Oh, I didn’t even know you could do that.


[Pius] Paqita is discovering all sorts of things. So she’s adding joints to the trusses. I think you’ve got an extra over there, though. Whoa. Is that going to work? I don’t even know. You want to try it out?

[Paqita] Wow!


[Pius] Now that’s cool.

[musical interlude]

[Pius] So Paqita, can I ask you now that you’ve been playing for six minutes or so…

[Paqita] Yeah, hold on.


[Pius] Wow, you’re really into this. What are you thinking? Talk me through what you’re thinking while you’re doing it.

[Paqita] I’m thinking it’s pretty fun, but it’s also frustrating, because when I do it, it just…

[Pius] You said it was fun. Why do you think it was fun?

[Paqita] Because, like, you can do a lot. It probably is frustrating, but for the first few times when it just fails, it’s still kind of cool to see how it failed and stuff, because you learn more.

[Pius] On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate the game Truss Me?

[Paqita] Um, like, seven. Or six. Or six and a half. Six and a half.

[musical interlude]

[Pius] This last thing is not a true game.

[Rachel] OK. And it’s, it looks – The icon for it looks like a snowflake, but it’s only five-sided.

[Pius] It’s a green, five-sided snowflake.

[Rachel] Everycircuit.

[Pius] And what do you think this is about, Rachel?

[Rachel] I’m imagining it’s about electrical circuits. [gasp] Oh no, now what is that?

[Pius] So this is the only one that isn’t quite free. There’s a free trial, so you can test it out to see if you like it, but it does cost $15 as of now, in early 2017. It’d be cool to have in your classroom…

[Rachel] How long does the free trial last?

[Pius] Just like a day.

[Rachel] Oh.

[Pius] But you can still test it out. So this is not a game. This is a circuit simulator. So this circuit simulator lets you basically look at the flow of electricity through any circuit. So if you were in a physics classroom, and you were teaching about resistors and how you could represent a network of resistors with a single resistor, you might go to this app, Everycircuit, and look at a resistor tree.

[Rachel] Ooooh.

[Pius] And you can see how electrons are flowing through your circuit.

[Rachel] That’s interesting.

[Pius] Right now I’m showing Rachel a resistor tree, where you’ve got a voltage, and it’s connected to, first, two parallel resistors, and then those two parallel resistors go into, like, a layer of three more resistors and then another layer of four more resistors. But it’s like a waterfall, right?

[Rachel] Yeah.

[Pius] The electrons just go down.

[Rachel] Sure. And you would be able to explain to the kids, this might be an example of your house, or this might be an example of something.

[Pius] The cool thing is that you can just immediately change resistances, for example.

[Rachel] OK, so I can increase or decrease each resistor, in order to help calculate…

[Pius] Like the flow of electrons.

[Rachel] Yeah. Yes.

[Pius] So all of a sudden I increased the resistance a lot for one of these resistors, and it slows down the flow.

[Rachel] Oh, it really did.

[Pius] Oh, you’re like, oh, higher resistance means you’re cutting off the flow of electrons, but it shoots more of that…

[Rachel] Over one other pathway.

[Pius] Other things you can do are create your own circuit with LEDs.

[Rachel] Neat.

[Pius] Notice up there it shows you, like, there’s a bunch of lines up top showing you the voltages across different resistances. Yeah. So this is not a game, again.

[Rachel] No, but that could be really useful.

[Pius] Yeah. If you need a quick circuit simulator, and you have fifteen bucks in your classroom.

[Rachel] Well, so often, especially, I know in high school physics, we tend to focus on teaching our kids the calculation of resistance in a circuit or the calculation of voltage across a circuit with multiple resistors. But they never really truly get a chance to see what that might look like. This would allow them to create the circuit that’s described in the word problem and then not only calculate whatever it is they’re asked to calculate but see what that looks like as far as the flow of electrons.

[Pius] Exactly. Yeah. If they had some circuit problem, they – Now this gives them an opportunity to cheat, I guess, but you could tell them, hey, if you want to check your answer, and you don’t have a bunch of circuits and battery lying around, you just click on it.

[Rachel] This would be a good homework check, I think. So you assign them the math problems, and then you say, you know, double-check your answers by creating it, and have them – So here’s a good question. Can you take screenshots?

[Pius] Yes.

[Rachel] There you go. I could, as a teacher, assess them based on, did they create what they were supposed to create?

[Pius] Yeah. Totally. And like, professional engineers will often simulate circuits nowadays, so it’s like they’re getting used to that idea of simulation. They can get used to the symbols of circuits.

[Rachel] Oh yeah.

[Pius] Which can be a challenge sometimes.

[Rachel] Absolutely.

[Pius] And if it was tied to a lab, if this was a prelab or something, they could get used to doing it with their hands later on.

[Rachel] Build it first on this app, and then when you come into class, you can use the materials.

[Pius] Yeah. So anyway, that’s that one.

[Rachel] I like that.

[Pius] And there’s a whole bunch of components, if you’re teaching about capacitors, inductors.

[Rachel] Nifty.

[Pius] I thought it was cool, but I’m a little bit of a nerd.

[Rachel] I’m a little bit of a nerd, too, but instructionally I’d say this is really useful.

[Pius] OK. Cool.

[Rachel] The downside is, of course, the length of the free trial. That’s a bummer.

[musical interlude]

[Pius] So thank you, Rachel.

[Rachel] Thank you, Pius, for being my guest today.

[Pius] Yes, I’m really happy you asked me about this.

[Rachel] Me too. I’m so smart. [laughs]

[Pius] Yes. And thanks for the tips on the classroom integration.

[Rachel] Thank you for sharing these apps. Some of them are super useful, and some of them are just plain fun, like, why wouldn’t you have it?

[Pius] Exactly.

[Rachel] Thanks.

[Pius] So I’ll talk to you next, I guess.

[Rachel] I will talk to you next time.

[Pius] Bye.

[Rachel] Thanks, audience.

[closing music fades in]

[Pius] Thanks also to Paqita today for testing the games and giving her thoughts. Links to all the games and resources mentioned today are in the show notes and at the podcast website k12engineering.net. Please subscribe on iTunes, Stitched, and SoundCloud, and follow the show on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for listening, and tune in next time for more.

[Pius] Our closing music is from “Late for School” by Bleeptor, under a Creative Commons Attribution License. The K12 Engineering Education Podcast is a production of Pios Labs, and you can support Pios Labs at patreon.com/pioslabs.

[closing music fades out]


[Pius] Hey, it’s the post-show notes from me, Pius. For a limited time you can get my new manual about improv and engineering design for 20% off. Just go to Smashwords.com, search for the book title Engineer’s Guide to Improv and Art Games, or search for my name, Pius Wong, since I wrote it, and when you check out, use the promo code EH22M. That code will be good through the summertime. Thanks.