About 90 Our Lady of the Angels Catholic School Grade 8 students set out on a mission Thursday (Jun.7) to save their science teacher, Scott Hebert, from the clutches of the enemy.
Small teams of costumed students roamed the grounds of the Fort Saskatchewan school – transformed for the day into a medieval-style village – as they worked together to rescue Hebert from the lair of the Minotaur King. During the day-long mission students completed a series of hands-on quests designed by Hebert, each one requiring them to solve novel problems using the science they’ve been learning all year.
Thursday’s event, meant to give students a pre-final exam review, wrapped up Hebert’s third year of applying gamification in his science classroom. Hebert has become well-known for his use of the teaching technique, which he says helps students better connect with the curriculum.
Hebert decided to turn his classroom into a game a couple years into his job at OLA, after talking to kids about changes they’d like to see at school.
“A lot of them told me right away, you know, I wish we had these different things to do. I wish we had more control, more autonomy, more creativity. So in doing all that I learned about this thing they do in business and marketing called gamification that had been very little touched upon in education.”
At the beginning of each school year Hebert’s students form guilds, earning team points through the months as they cover topics in physics, biology and chemistry. Hebert will use final exam results and the outcome of the day's rescue mission to declare one team the winner.
The gamification finale had students Thomas Corrigan and Kayden Reimer, members of the Chromosomes guild, busy putting their science skills to use as they built a house and helped a peasant get his boat in the water. Corrigan said the gamification technique helps kids figure out how to work as teams.
“It definitely forces working with people which I like because in a work environment you're mostly not going to be all alone. You've got to work with people. That's life.”
Reimer liked the interactive aspect of the 25 to 30 stations set up on the school grounds, which required him and his fellow guild members to think on their feet.
“The quests kind of pop up out of nowhere like a situation in the real world would. And no quest has ever been the same. It is a very different atmosphere for each quest,” Reimer said.
Hebert, who pointed out that research has proven that knowledge gained by rote learning is fleeting, might have been pleased to hear both boys agree that the memories of the day’s event would stick with them for a long time.