Galactic Gloop Zoo is a 60-level puzzle/strategy game that addresses a common misconception about the directionality of heat transfer—that, for example, a drink cools because ice transfers its “coldness” to the drink, rather than because the drink loses its heat to the ice. The player assumes the role of a zookeeper in an intergalactic zoo filled with strange animals from many planets. Newly discovered creatures are about to go on display, but the eggs haven’t hatched yet. The player must warm or cool them, as needed, in order to hatch them in time.
But players can’t access the eggs directly, and must use helper gloops to relay heat to the eggs. These blob-like creatures can transfer heat to each other through conduction, convection, and radiation, depending on their type, the environment, and their proximity to each other. Players use the gloops to create a Rube Goldberg-like sequence of heat-transfer events that results in the eggs warming or cooling enough to hatch and reveal the exotic animals inside.
This game, Galactic Gloop Zoo, is designed to address a common misconception among students—that cold moves through space along with heat. Ordinary language supports this idea through such expressions as, “Don’t let the cold in.” The game also addresses the difference between heat and temperature.
The mechanics of the Galactic Gloop Zoo game provide a model for the transfer of heat via radiation, convection, and conduction. The player has to bring enough heat to a set of fertilized eggs in a variety of different environments to cause them to hatch various types of creatures and populate a zoo in outer space.
The game’s rules are a close match to the mechanisms of heat transfer, in that the interaction between the player’s avatar, Stan the zookeeper, and the various heat-carrying creatures causes more heat to flow to areas of less heat until either the interaction stops or the two parts have arrived at the same level of heat. Temperature is a measure of that heat, and reading temperature indicators (an optional feature) is a more efficient way to play the game than is relying on distinguishing the degree of color saturation, which is also an analogy for heat level. The various environments in the zoo represent the different ways in which heat can be transferred, and appear as different types of challenges in the game, which has many levels of difficulty.
Galactic Gloop Zoo can be used with subtopics associated with heat transfer, such as the direction of transfer, thermal equilibrium, and insulators. Explanations and support materials for these are available in the Curricular Connections page.
The activities and resources provided here represent materials developed by the Possible Worlds and Analogy Mapping Study teams to help teacher-participants of the field studies integrate the digital games into their customary teaching of heat transfer.
The vignettes and materials presented here will help you understand how the Possible Worlds resources can be integrated with your existing approach to these topics. They are intended to help you make connections between the core mechanics of the games and the phenomena related to common scientific misconceptions.
In this activity, students become editors at NoWay!com, a website that publishes amazing-but-true stories. Two stories being considered for publication include claims about heat energy. Students must evaluate the validity of the claims by looking for relevant evidence in the informational resources provided. Based on what they find, they decide whether or not the site should publish the stories.