Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Pocket Frogs

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Pocket Frogs

Article excerpt

By NimbleBit. Free. NimbleBit. San Diego, CA 2013.

This "freemium" app (free but with inapp purchases) for Android and iOS devices has the fun of a simple game and just enough science to lead players to an untamable addiction to amphibians. It can be used to introduce the concepts of habitats and adaptations to today's "iGen" students.

The object of the game is to collect and breed frogs in a variety of habitats. Players can breed frogs for four traits. With 23 available body colors, 23 pattern colors, 100 pattern types, and 16 ear-patch colors, each "species" has 368 different possible combinations, and, among all species, 36,800 trait combinations are possible. Daunting? Your students will probably find it easy, especially if they've been introduced to genetics in school.

The "species" are given semi-Latin descriptive names like Aqua aurum an-ura. Players begin with two frogs, which must hop from lily pad to lily pad in a pond, capture and eat dragonflies, and then breed with other frogs. Players can explore the pond to find rewards, new habitat patterns, stamps that deliver new frogs instantly, and potions (a nonscience component). The frogs are worth differing values and take different amounts of time to mature and grow. Underlying the game play are two scientific principles: selective breeding and the idea that certain species will succeed in a given habitat.

For value in the classroom, you can have students select a frog and breed it with the other frog in the habitat. Possible offspring are displayed in a chart, and the resulting single offspring is randomly generated from the parents' phenotypes. …

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