Reach For the Sun Teacher Guide - Unit Introduction

Unit Introduction

Welcome

Welcome to Filament Games’ Reach for the Sun, a game about plant growth and reproduction. Behind all those leaves, roots, and petals is an intelligent bio-machine of starch, nutrients, and water. Take over a flower’s seedling to help it grow and reproduce before winter approaches. Carefully gather and manage three key resources needed to create flowers and fruits. You’ll never look at these organisms the same way again!

This game is designed to be used in inclusive science classrooms that have a diverse range of students (e.g., average and above average students, students with high incidence disabilities, English language learners, and students who struggle with reading). It is designed using the Universal Design for Learning framework and is strategically aligned to Next Generation Science Standards.

This curriculum package includes materials to help you support your students while they play Reach for the Sun. Be sure to familiarize yourself with Reach for the Sun before your students play. The Almanac provides an overview of game play and essential terminology, and the beginning of the game acts as a friendly tutorial that walks you through the challenges and requirements of growing plants, allowing you to practice the game using a sunflower. Once you have had an opportunity to explore the game, you will need to determine which graphics level works best on your classroom computers and instruct students to choose this level each time they play the game.

The lessons extend the game-playing process through activities, labs, discussions, and hands-on games. All lessons and activities can be distributed as printable handouts or they can be projected on a whiteboard.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the life cycle of plants and how it relates to seasons
  • Understand the resources plants need to survive and reproduce
  • Understand how photosynthesis gives plants energy for growth
  • Understand plant anatomy and its functions
  • Understand plant reproduction and pollination
Most importantly, enjoy Reach for the Sun and have fun!

Standards Map

NGSS

  • MS-LS1-4

    Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.
  • MS-LS1-6

    Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.
  • LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms

    • Plants reproduce in a variety of ways, sometimes depending on animal behavior and specialized features for reproduction. (MS-LS1-4)

    LS1.C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms

    • Plants, algae (including phytoplankton), and many microorganisms use the energy from light to make sugars (food) from carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water through the process of photosynthesis, which also releases oxygen. These sugars can be used immediately or stored for growth or later use. (MS-LS1-6)

Common Core

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.3

    Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.4

    Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6–8 texts and topics.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy

  • 5A/M2

    Animals and plants have a great variety of body plans and internal structures that contribute to their being able to make or find food and reproduce.

Game Guide

  • Grow roots as early as possible.

    • Roots provide two out of three resources.
    • Growing roots early in the game allows you to stockpile the resources needed to build everything else.
  • Given a choice between a stem and a leaf, the stem is often the better choice.

    • Roots provide two out of three resources.
    • Growing roots early in the game allows you to stockpile the resources needed to build everything else.
  • Keep an eye on your resource capacity! It increases with every plant part added.

    • More resource capacity allows you to store more water, nutrients, and starch.
    • More water, nutrients and starch allows you to fruit more flowers.
  • Use rain to your advantage.

    • If you are low on water, commit to just clicking on roots when it’s raining.
    • If you have enough water, commit to just clicking on leaves when it’s raining.
  • Avoid growing plant parts you don’t need.

    • Once your resource capacity is high enough to fruit a large number of flowers, you don’t need to add many other parts.
    • Adding flowers and pollinating them one at a time can increase the number of flowers you can fruit, because you don’t waste resources on flowers you can’t fruit.
  • It is possible to fruit all flowers on all plants — some of them are just really difficult.