This. Is. Awesome! Students are tapping into the playful aspects of science and learning.
This is March Mammal Madness. It’s a competition that has been playing out online and in hundreds of classrooms over the past month. Real animals wage fictional battles, while students use science — a lot of it — to try to predict the winner.March Mammal Madness was created five years ago by Katie Hinde, an evolutionary biologist at Arizona State University, though now, she says, the competition depends on a whole team of volunteer scientists and conservationists: biologists, animal behaviorists, paleoanthropologists, marine biologists.Hinde’s team meets every year for a Selection Sunday of its own. Team members pick the animals that will compete and even decide who will win, though they keep it a secret. That’s because a whole lot of research has to be done.Each scientist is assigned a specific battle, then studies up and writes a battle story based on facts.
“Then the battles are live-tweeted as a dynamic, play-by-play story, much like someone would watch a basketball game,” Hinde says.
Those tweets link to scientific articles, videos, photos, fossil records — whatever the team can use to drop knowledge into the story. That’s why so many teachers, including Michelle Harris, have begun using the brackets in class.
Playing with ideas is the whole point of learning! This is absolutely something I’ve seen PhD’s do sitting around having a pint together, chatting about animal life and death scenarios. It pulls on so many skills – critical thinking, learning and retaining knowledge about science, creativity, telling a story, collaboration, and more, all under the guise of play!
My money is on the slow loris. 😉