‘Lizard Island Observation’ Teaches Children to Think Like Scientists

A new game from Budding Biologist created in collaboration with scientists at UC Davis teaches first- and fifth-graders to think like a scientist using inquiry-based tools on a fun adventure.

The game, Lizard Island Observation, was created by Dr. Kristine Callis-Duehl (who has a PhD in Biology from the University of Florida), Katy Castronovo (holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting & Drawing from Ohio State University) and Karen Boley (who holds a BA in elementary education from the University of Mount Union and an MS in language education from Indiana University, with a focus on ESL and reading). All three are part of Budding Biologist, a company that creates books and video games for youngsters with a focus on teaching skills that are in line with Next Generation Science Standards, as well as Common Core Standards.

Lizard Island Observation sends players on an adventure to search micro islands for brown anole lizards. Players must find, catch, tag, and measure each one they find. Along the way, players can tap on various island life to learn more about it. All of these facts, questions, and answers are recorded in a field notebook.

The game is also tailored for use with non-readers or children with learning disabilities because it offers the option to have the text read aloud. The game is recommended for children in grades K-5. A school version of the game will also have lesson plans and assessment tools for teachers and homeschoolers.

Lizard Island Observation is available for iOS and Android devices and costs $4.99. For more information, check out www.buddingbiologist.com.

Lizard Island: Observation is the first in a series of three video games created in collaboration with scientists at UC Davis, who have been studying the ecology of a series of micro islands in the Bahamas. The data from that study has been used to make Lizard Island as scientifically accurate as possible, according to its creators.

Budding Biologist received a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support the development of the project. The NSF was a SBIR (Small Business and Innovative Research) grant, which means that the game will be marketed for profit and the government will eventually get its investment back. Budding Biologists tells us that 100 percent of the profits from this first game will go back into research and development for future games and books.

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