Meet Gastro Trek, the game for teaching primary school children about the digestive system. Similar to the well known computing principle of gabbage in, gabbage out (GIGO), Gastro Trek is founded on the philosophy that we are what we are because of what we eat. In fact digestion starts much earlier before the food reaches the mouth! The salivary glands begin engaging as soon as you see and smell that arousing aroma from the power house. At one primary school, the learners know that they owe their energy to food and fondly refer to the school kitchen as the power house.From oral cavity, or mouth as the first point of entry of food into the digestive system, it takes a long trek until it disembarks via the anus, assuming all is well. Along the way, it undergoes both mechanical and chemical transformations from large chunks, to bolus, to fluids that can be taken up by the cells while separating and packaging the waste.
Gastro Trek is not an ordinary simulation of the digestive system, it is a game where the learner is the player and he/she interacts and controls the flow of the game. Gastro Trek takes the game approach where learners can learn through experimentation in a safe way. Learners can pick the wrong options, as many times as possible until they learn that it is actually wrong! Control, choices, rewards, fantasy and fun is key in keeping our players learning and progressing through the game
Lets see what happens in the oral cavity. While at high school, a boy was nicknamed condenser, because his oral cavity performed exceptionally well in handling porridge at high temperatures. He could have won himself an Olympic medal in this category. Our friend won himself the name Crasher for his powers to manage large quantities. Modified aspects of these extremes makeup the Gastro Trek fun assets, while keeping focus on the actual science of digestion.
The Gastro Trek oral cavity takes inspiration from the factory that performs all these services. The 40 categories of teeth must be effectively used. The canine teeth have special tasks different from scissors and molars. The player must correctly deploy enzymes such as amlyse. In a game, there are consequences for poor deployment including under deployment.
Gastro Trek is part of the gamification techniques being designed under the funding from Makerere university, Research and Innovation Fund (RIF) first round, under the project “Strengthening Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Using Gamification in Primary Schools (GamePlus)” . Other games under design include Kamati for mathematics and Red Cruise for blood circulation.
The game plus project is led by Dr Benjamin Kanagwa, with a team of other researchers in the areas of education, system dynamics, e-learning and industrial illustration and design
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