Tyto Online was built with actions that are directly linked to the eight Science & Engineering Practices (SEPs) of the Next Generation Science Standards. In other words, the gameplay itself is actually these practices! It's one of the things that is most unique about us: we don't just layer multiple choice questions on a game, but deeply engage students in science.
& Defining Problems
Developing & Using Models
Planning & Carrying Out Investigations
Analyzing & Interpreting Data
Using Mathematics & Computational Thinking
Constructing Explanations & Designing Solutions
Engaging in Argument from Evidence
Obtaining, Evaluating, & Communicating Information
All of Tyto Online's content is framed around questions, whether the big driving question for a storyline, or questions asked throughout as students clarifying their thinking about an explanation.
Why is this island a rainforest on one side and desert on the other? This example illustrates our use of questions with one of many phenomena: rain shadow!
Students are tasked with understanding why an island has two very different climates. In the process, they ask additional questions about the data, and why the weather balloons rose at different speeds when released.
Can we increase crop yield to solve a pending food shortage in our city? Students may define problems as part of a complete investigation, such as establishing criteria to hit for solving a food crisis. There are often additional opportunities at the end of storylines to have used the investigation to define a problem to solve (stop an illness spread, remove the course of microplastics, etc.).
Students develop strong modeling skills throughout using Tyto Online, both from using and creating them to explain phenomenon, and using complex simulation systems.
Create a flow chart. Students may create flow charts to demonstrate energy flow, processes, and more as they synthesize data to explain mechanics.
Use models to gain information. Students are regularly presented with models and asked to interpret them.
[Coming Soon] Create and use a variety of models/diagrams. Adding a new mechanic where students will be able to place objects within graphics: diagram a cell, a cladogram, etc.
Sandboxes. Three Sandboxes (Ecology, Weather & Climate, and Genetics) are created with complex underlying models that students are able to experiment with and work towards goals. For example:
- How can we melt the North Pole in a planet simulation (axis tilt, rotation, or placing air masses)? Then diagram the variables that contributed.
- What are the differences and similarities in an ecology simulator to real life ecosystems?
Students are able to carry out investigations (collecting data and drawing conclusions) that we set up within storylines, and in Sandboxes can even design their own to answer questions.
Many storylines have defined investigations that students are able to carry out and then use the data to create explanations and come to conclusions. For example, they can:
- Run a fitness test with animals on different diets.
- Investigate how moisture and temperature impact frog's skin.
- Test the impact of various variables on coral to see if it results in bleaching.
Because the Sandboxes are more open-ended and simulation-based, students can design their own investigations for questions - within limits of the model! For example, in our ecosystem building sandbox, they can design their own investigations for:
- What are the limiting factors of an ecosystem?
- What would happen in a predator-less ecosystem?
- What happens when two predators compete?
A variety of data collection, analysis, and interpretation is used as part of answering questions within Tyto Online, from provided data visualizations to opportunities to create their own.
Regularly throughout Tyto Online content, students are presented with data to analyze: including graphs, diagrams, tables, maps, and more. They use this to analyze and interpret data, define relationships, and help resolve questions about phenomenon or what works for an engineering solution.
Sandboxes allow students more opportunity to collect their own data. For example, identifying keystone species and monitoring their population within an ecosystem using a Google Sheets template.
COMING SOON. Our new Expeditions feature will allow students to collect individual samples and then generate a variety of graph types to support claims.
Students use mathematical and computational thinking as they investigate phenomena within Tyto Online: using the digital tool to analyze, represent, and apply mathematical concepts.
Math is tightly connected to students' analyzing data, and in many storylines and the context of sandboxes it can be used as the basis for answering questions or determining approaches. For example, students can enter numbers for probabilities based on Punnett Squares to determine the best solution.
Students are able to help organize data and create simple algorithms. For example, to figure out the biomass needs of each trophic level, they create an ordered argument with mathematical concepts of how they would calculate this, such as: Tigers' food needs per year divided by 1 muntjac's mass = number of muntjacs needed to feed the tigers.
Storylines in Tyto Online are framed around investigating a phenomenon or problem, with many ways to collect and analyze evidence, and then generating an explanation or solution.
Explaining a phenomenon might look like generating a diagram/flowchart to explain what is happening, or creating an explanation with our "argument builder" (see below). These are done regularly throughout the storylines to ensure students are synthesizing the evidence they've colleted.
We also provide supplemental materials to ensure students are fully making connections with their reasoning when they create an explanation. For example, this handout can be used after creating an explanation using the argument builder, expanding on their reasoning with an open writing prompt.
Students regularly engage in argument from evidence within Tyto Online, convincing game characters about explanations or solutions for a problem they've working to solve.
A key component of Tyto Online tasks students with building arguments from evidence. They must "persuade" a character and use the evidence they gathered throughout the storyline so far in order to defend the claim they chose. The characters will provide feedback based on the arguments students use.
When relevant, students are asked to evaluate competing design solutions in order to choose the one that best meets the design criteria and restraints. For example, selecting which solution best eliminates the source of a microplastics issue based on the cost in addition to impact on the ecosystem.
Experiences in Tyto Online also allow students to critically read texts and gather information to determine what is relevant and useful for answering questions or creating explanations.
Generally once per storyline, we provide an opportunity to read passages and then select relevant citations for the information students are seeking. Sometimes these will represent more modern pieces of media, like forum posts, to have the students identify if there is relevant information they can trust within the source.
Suggested routines and activities are included, which can be used as the basis for classroom discussion, such as the OWL (Observe-Wonder-Learn) Routine. Similarly, some activities suggest presentation such as about problems encountered and resolved when building an ecosystem... or students can create a portfolio presentation about their experiences to share!
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