Student Maker Project – Social Studies

The Makers Project that our group decided to create was a board game of the United States. This would be helpful in the classroom because when students learn the 50 states, they are often presented with a list of names or learn a song to help remember all of them. One of the elements missing in learning the states is the size, shape and location of state within the country.

To familiarize themselves with the shape of states, students look at globes that are often outdated and provide no additional information. With this United States board game, students will be able to physically remove state pieces, find their location in the United States, and learn valuable information about the states that will contribute to their knowledge of state attributes, climates, history, and etc.

The game can be used as a class review before tests about the 50 states, or it can be used in groups as well as one on one.

The design we made for the board game is an outline of the United States on a blue board to show students that the United States is surrounded by water. There is a separate piece for each state, which makes a total of 50 game pieces, and there is a question on the back of each state. There are 50 cards total, with the question “What is the capital of _______ state?” on the front, and the answers on the state on the back. The States stay on the board by means of magnets. The objective of the game is to place as many state pieces on the board in the correct spot. The game would be played in this order;

  1. Draw a card with the name of a State.
  2. Identify the shape of that state from 1 of the 50 pieces. (If answered correctly move to step 3. If answered incorrectly put the card back in the deck.)
  3. Identify the capital of that state. (if answered correctly move to step 4.  If answered incorrectly put the card back in the deck.)
  4. Flip the state over and answer question on the back. (If answered correctly move to step 5, if answered incorrectly put the state back.)
  5. Place the state in the right location on the map. (If put in the right place, keep the card. If put in the wrong place, put the state back.)

Note:

  • If a player or team mate answers with the wrong answer at any point, the opposing player or team steals. If the player gets all the right answers, turn change happens after step 5.
  • If there is more than one question on the back of each state (for advanced grades) repeat step 4 as many times as necessary.

The United States board was the first idea we came up with and our group immediately came up with ideas geared towards the board game. We recognized that our biggest hurdle was identifying why this board game is different from something you can buy in a store. We decided that it was worth going through with the idea because our board game was plenty different from other map board games; our board game has separate pieces that don’t originally start on the board, our questions are unique, and the objective is to collect cards instead of points. The board game could also be used one on one, group against group, or as an entire class review. Once we decided that our game was different enough from games that can be bought in stores, the ideas became very easy. We first came up with the design of the board, changed our rules several times and split the job of coming up with questions for each state.

We learned that making rules to a board game is difficult. Our original rules were too easy, or often didn’t make sense. The majority of our group brainstorming was focused on coming up with strategic rules that would result in a student or group of students winning in a way that makes sense. We also learned that when working with a group, it is important to make sure that we’re all on the same page. If one person has an idea in their head it’s essential to convey that idea in a way that everyone understands so we’re collaboratively working towards the same goal.

We first came up with the idea of making a board of the United States with the States on the board as well as the names labeled on each state. The cards were originally going to ask only the capital of each state. We decided this would be too easy and require very little interaction with the game itself. Having only questions asking the capital would also result in students knowing very little about the history, attributes or facts of each state. We decided the original idea of the board game was a good idea but we should come up with a game that requires more involvement from students. We then came up with the idea of removing the state pieces from the board which would ensure that students become more familiar with the shape of each state. We also thought removing the pieces from the board was a good idea because it would require the students to put the pieces back on the board, therefore familiarizing them with not only the shape of the state but the location of the state as well. To make the board game more challenging for higher grades or students with advanced levels of thinking, we would include expansion packs with additional questions about each state. Such as, questions about the Oceans that border each state.

As a group, we would like our maker project to expand in the future by making bigger pieces, and a bigger board. This way students can be more active with the game and move around more, rather than just staying stationary. We would also want to make more board game rules that are more challenging for older students. Another idea that our group had for the future of our board game was to make a database of questions for teachers to be able to access. This way students are not always answering the same questions and are learning about different aspects of each state. A great opportunity could also be, have teachers let students create their own questions about the states, therefore students feel like they are involved with the making of the game. This database would let all teachers access the questions and then print out questions and students can cut the pieces out with the new questions on them.

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