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Resistance is Futile: A New Collaborative Laboratory Game-based Lab to Teach Basic Circuit Concepts

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Engineering Physics & Physics Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1335.1 - 26.1335.10



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Paper Authors


James G. O'Brien Wentworth Institute of Technology

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James G. O'Brien is an associate professor of Physics at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, MA. James is currently pursuing educational pedagogies in engineering education through game-ification of education and the design of competitive table top games which engage students in an exciting atmosphere to help facilitate learning of essential physics concepts. Aside from a love of gaming and its role in education, James is also the Vice President of the International Association of Relativistic Dynamics, an international organization of physicists whose research revolves around the study of relativity and gravitational research.

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Gergely Sirokman Wentworth Institute of Technology


Franz J. Rueckert Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Dr. Rueckert is an experimental physicist specializing in condensed matter. His research interests include magnetic and electronic properties of perovskite materials and, more recently, novel approaches to physics education.

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Derek Cascio Wentworth Institute of Technology

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In  recent  years,  gamification  of  education  has  proven  to  be  an  effective  paradigm  in  modern  pedagology.    Following  the  success  of  the  author’s  previous  work  with  "Sector  Vector”(citation  for  last  ASEE),  they  now  present  a  new  interactive  game  based  laboratory  to  highlight  the  basic  manipulation  and  calculation  of  resistors  in  circuits.    The  power  of  disguising  the  lesson  in  a  game  based  exercise  is  discussed  in  this  paper.  In  Resistance  is  Futile  the  lesson  of  basic  resistor  combinations  is  delivered  in  a  game  based  exercise  in  which  a  circuit  continually  evolves.  As  the  game  progresses  students  are  forced  to  make  short  and  long  term  plans  to  modify  an  evolving  circuit  which  meets  primary  and  secondary  objectives  (such  as  total  resistance).  They  are  forced  to  make  on  the  fly  calculations  of  resistor  combinations  in  each  turn  of  the  game.    Students  are  also  exposed  to  the  creation  of  a  modular  circuit  which  does  not  always  conform  to  a  standard  view  as  might  be  expected  in  textbook  examples.  Together,  in  an  interactive  fashion,  they  must  evaluate  and  analyze  a  potentially  complex  overall  circuit  diagram.    Results  of  student  engagement  and  concept  retention  have  been  shown  to  increase  due  to  the  dynamic  environment  and  competitive  nature  established  in  the  gaming  environment.    In  this  paper,  we  will  discuss  both  the  concept  of  the  lab-­‐based  game  itself,  as  well  as  the  pedagogical  implications  of  the  implementation  of  this  gaming  medium  versus  the  traditional  resistor  combination  laboratory  exercise.  

O'Brien, J. G., & Sirokman, G., & Rueckert, F. J., & Cascio, D. (2015, June), Resistance is Futile: A New Collaborative Laboratory Game-based Lab to Teach Basic Circuit Concepts Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24672

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