Playful learning inside a sqaure

Feb 28, 2012
HOPSCOTCH offers learning, movement and fun all rolled into one. Credit: Fraunhofer IDMT

Thanks to the work of Fraunhofer researchers, keeping mentally and physically fit at any age is now child’s play – literally. Dubbed “HOPSCOTCH,” the interactive learning system is designed to be more efficient at combining learning, movement and most of all fun – whether for learning vocabulary words, history or math. The scientists will present their solution, which is named after the popular children’s game, at the CeBIT trade fair on March 6–10.

Interactive with the aid of a computer was the hype of recent years. But as users quickly discovered: learning on a computer monitor is almost as tedious as learning from a book. Media scientist Dr. Martina Lucht from the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Ilmenau found the solution to this problem on the street, so to speak: “I found my inspiration one day when I saw a hopscotch game drawn on the sidewalk,” she recalls. “It suddenly occurred to me that learning has to be combined with movement to make it fun.” The result was HOPSCOTCH, the English name of a game in which children hop between clearly defined boxes on the ground.

The learning game consists of a sensor mat divided up into nine fields. Each field contains letters and a number, arranged like the keypad of a mobile phone. The user is supposed to complete tasks in certain subjects as these appear on a monitor, such as: “Was heißt Pflaume auf Englisch? [What is the English word for plum?]” To solve the task, the user has to step on the right fields on the mat in the right sequence to enter words or numbers – like writing a text message on your phone.

With HOPSCOTCH, a user can practice drills for English, do multiplication or answer questions on health science or history. “What makes this method so special is that it is suitable for all ages,” Martina Lucht is quick to point out. “We saw a two-and-a-half year old girl start playing with the program. She had learned the entire alphabet by the end of the day. But we have also found that senior citizens enjoy it, too, as we saw in their interest in our history quiz.”

The learning system capitalizes on children’s enjoyment of playing and movement. Ms. Lucht can also make the most of her skills as a media psychologist: For example, there is no negative feedback telling the user he or she is wrong. If an answer is incorrect, the user simply receives no confirmation message. So they have to keep trying until they get the right answer. “We have built in a kangaroo that jumps up and down and shouts ‘Yippee!’ when you have solved a task. The children love that.”

Initial tests at an elementary school have already demonstrated that all children were enthusiastic participants, particularly hyperactive children. Martina Lucht’s vision is to bring more movement into the classroom. For instance, there could be a HOPSCOTCH period each day that would combine physical education with instruction in language skills.

Explore further: Fiber-optic microscope will help physicians detect cancer, diseases at early stages

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Motherese' important for children's language development

May 06, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Talking to children has always been fundamental to language development, but new research reveals that the way we talk to children is key to building their ability to understand and create ...

Research shows phonics not always the best reading tonic

Jul 04, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Ground-breaking research in learning has found that children are primarily geared towards learning to read through storing words in the brain, and that phonics, used for “sounding out” words, ...

Unconscious language learning

Nov 04, 2011

When linguists talk about unconscious or implicit language learning, they don’t mean learning while you sleep. Rather, they are talking about one of the most intriguing of all mental phenomena: the ability ...

Girls' verbal skills make them better at arithmetic

Feb 23, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- While boys generally do better than girls in science and math, some studies have found that girls do better in arithmetic. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Ps ...

For English learners, reading isn't always

Apr 11, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- An influential model for teaching reading and comprehension to English learners doesn’t work well for Cantonese-speaking children, according to new research from the University of California, Davis, ...

It is all in the hands

Aug 19, 2011

We all know that feedback from ‘educators’ is very important; especially when it is related to the correct execution of an activity.

Recommended for you

Smart sensor technology to combat indoor air pollution

Apr 14, 2014

Indoor air quality (IAQ) influences the health and well-being of people but for the last 20 years there has been a growing concern about pollutants in closed environments, the difficulty in identifying them ...

Drones used to assess damage after disasters

Apr 11, 2014

Researchers of the University of Twente use a new method to map structural damage after disasters. A remote-controlled drone with a regular high-quality camera takes a large amount of pictures of a building. ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, ...