EUREKA: "GUESS a NUMBER" game, Antonella Krige

Antonella Krige

"GUESS a NUMBER" game (built with EUREKA)

1. Introduction: the game
2. The software and its goals
3. The pupil's activities
4. Help to knowledge gaining
5. The teacher's role
6. Interesting aspects and limitations
7. Enhancements

1. Introduction: the game

To illustrate some of the capabilities of EUREKA, a micro world software, I have chosen to build a simple game for small children. The game consists in trying to guess a random number generated by the program. With this game called "GUESS a NUMBER", the child is stimulated to take a thoughtful approach to estimation, while still remaining inside a ludic environment. By providing appropriate feedback, the game guides the child through intermediate solutions until the good answer is eventually found. A good answer is rewarded with a congratulating text and an applauding. Other answers trigger two types of feedback: "answer too big" with a cat sound or "answer too small" with a cow sound.

Download the game

The "GUESS a NUMBER" game has been compiled as a run-time executable so to be usable on different platforms (MAC, WIN95, WIN3.x) without the need for the EUREKA software to be installed. Click here to download the run-time file (GUESSAN.EXE) . Save it on your MAC or PC running Windows and double click on it to play.

Download the game source file

Make sure you have EUREKA installed on your machine and the.WGT association to EUREKA.EXE defined in your browser. Click here to download the program's source file .

Rules for playing:

  1. Double click on the GUESSAN.EXE.
  2. Click on GO.
  3. Press on A to generate a random number between 1 and 50.
  4. Type your guess in the calculator and press Enter.
  5. The program will tell if your answer is correct, too big or too small.
  6. If you answer is not correct, try again by typing a new number in the calculator and pressing Enter.
  7. To play again press A.
  8. A counter in the bottom right corner indicates the number of times you have played.
  9. Click on STOP to close the game.

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2. The software and its goals:

EUREKA is an open learning environment belonging to the category of the micro worlds. Following the cognitive theories which define learning as an active, constructive, goal-oriented process, EUREKA provides a laboratory place where the child can do experiments, construct engines, solve problems, make games and build all sorts of imaginary objects. It also includes examples and a number of problems to solve. EUREKA is very science oriented, the underline idea being that science can be learnt while having fun. Therefore, the software provides primitives in a variety of scientific domains. EUREKA uses a totally graphic representation which gives a ludic aspect to the program.

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3. The pupil's activities:

In a micro world like EUREKA, exploration is the main child's activity. EUREKA presents a blank screen and a tool palette where EUREKA basic primitives are shown as graphical icons. The icons are grouped by categories,i.e: switches, number manipulation tools, display tools, etc. The child must select the objects and link them together in a logical way. The learner, therefore, plays a totally active role in the process of building an EUREKA.

This process involves several phases:
  1. conceptual definition of the experiment to be built
  2. definition of a flow chart describing the sequential operations to be performed
  3. construction of the EUREKA. This task requires at least a knowledge of the EUREKA primitives, the creation of links between the basic building blocks and a feeling for the spacial representation of the objects on the screen.
  4. testing
  5. saving the EUREKA for reuse.
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4. Helps to knowledge gaining:

EUREKA has a very good help system which can be invoked any time with the F1 function or by double-clicking on an object. The topics in the help are explained in a very simple language that can be understood by children as young as teenagers.

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5. The teacher's role:

Children do not need much assistance to explore EUREKA's environment and amuse themselves with it. A teacher could nevertheless have an important role in guiding the child to use EUREKA in a constructive way to test scientific experiments. EUREKA could therefore be used to reinforce or clarify the knowledge gained in the classroom.

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6. Interesting aspects and limitations:

Because of its totally graphical interface, EUREKA has a very ludic aspect to it. Nevertheless, it offers a large range of primitives suitable for the development of both simple EUREKAS and very sophisticated laboratories to explore mathematical and scientific phenomena. In this respect EUREKA is therefore suitable to children of a wide age range. As an example, a small child can explore cause-effects relationships by creating a simple EUREKA that lights a bulb when an impulse is given. On the other hand, older children can for example build an EUREKA to calculate the weight of a man on Mars or solve complex mathematical problems.
Here is an example of a simple EUREKA created by a 9 years old child after about an hour of unguided exploration in the micro world. Click here to download it.

The modularity of EUREKA is another interesting aspect of the software. One can build an EUREKA, save it, and then import it as a separate module inside other EUREKAS. Nevertheless, there is a limitation in the number of modules that can be used in the EUREKA given by the machine's memory size.

The possibility of saving an EUREKA as an independent application (run-time executable file) is very attractive for portability reasons.

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7. Enhancements:

The modularity of EUREKA could be enhanced by the possibility of saving a module as a basic primitive. One could think of the possibility of creating a library of modules, each one having a name and an icon. The product could give access to the modules via a separate "modules palette". With this type of enhancement EUREKA would become similar to an advanced programming language.

return to my STAF Work page

Antonella Krige, 9.1.98