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International Journal of Computer Games Technology
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 382396, 14 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/382396
Research Article

Modeling a Virtual World for the Educational Game Calangos

1Intelligent and Cognitive Systems Lab, State University of Feira de Santana, 44036-900 Feira de Santana, BA, Brazil
2Natural Computing Laboratory, Mackenzie Presbyterian University, 01302-090 São Paulo, SP, Brazil
3Computer Science Department, Federal University of Bahia, 40170-290 Salvador, BA, Brazil
4Laboratory of Terrestrial Vertebrates, Institute of Biology, Federal University of Bahia, 40170-290 Salvador, BA, Brazil
5Institute of Education Gastão Guimarães, 44026010 Feira de Santana, BA, Brazil
6Graduate Studies Program in History, Philosophy and Science Teaching, Federal University of Bahia and State University of Feira de Santana, 44036-900 Feira de Santana, BA, Brazil
7Department of Education, State University of Feira de Santana, 44036-900 Feira de Santana, BA, Brazil
8Institute of Biology, Federal University of Bahia, 40170-290 Salvador, BA, Brazil

Received 7 November 2013; Revised 20 February 2014; Accepted 14 March 2014; Published 24 April 2014

Academic Editor: Mark Green

Copyright © 2014 Angelo C. Loula et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Ecology plays a central role in biology and deserves special attention in scientific education. Nonetheless, the teaching and learning of ecology face a number of difficulties. In order to tackle these difficulties, electronic games have recently been used to mediate ecology learning. This paper presents an electronic game that fulfills these gaps in order to make the students’ work with ecological concepts more concrete, active, and systematic. The paper presents the computational model of the ecological system included in the game, based on a real ecological case, a sand dune ecosystem located in the semiarid Caatinga biome, namely, the sand dunes of the middle São Francisco River, in the state of Bahia, Brazil. It includes various ecological relationships between endemic lizards and the physical environment, preys, predators, cospecifics, and plants. The engine of the game simulates the physical conditions of the ecosystem (dune topography and climate conditions with their circadian and circannual cycles), its biota (plant species and animal species), and ecological relationships (predator-prey encounters, cospecific relationships). We also present results from one classroom study of a teaching sequence structured around Calangos, which showed positive outcomes regarding high school students’ understanding of thermal regulation in ectothermic animals.