How to use Pokemon Go to teach kids English, maths, science

By Anita Yee   — September 08, 2016
  • Global phenomenon
    1 / 5 Global phenomenon

    Never has a game created this much excitement among people of all ages, from preschoolers to grandparents. 

    Around the world, Pokemon Go gamers willingly fanned out of their homes and took on the walkabout roles of Pokemon trainers Ash, Misty and Brock, who hunted Pokemon in various environments in the immensely popular TV animated series of the 1990s. 

    The craze has gripped Singapore since early August, but as your kids go out to “catch them all”, as the tagline goes, why not use it to teach them useful lessons along the way? Here’s how. 

    (Click on arrows in photos to read more.)

     

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  • Geography
    2 / 5 Geography

    Kids start to be more aware of their surroundings as they navigate their way towards lures and Pokestops.  

    “The concept of distance, the shortest path and fundamental map-reading skills can be easily visualised and explained (by parents) while playing the game,”says Albert Tan, Singapore’s Cybersports & Online Gaming Association adviser, and Nanyang Polytechnic’s assistant manager (Academy of Lifelong Learning and Skills).

    Albert, who believes that map reading is a life skill, explains: “For example, visiting different Pokestops to maximise the collection of goodies will challenge a player’s logic in route planning.”

     

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  • English
    3 / 5 English

    Like any other game, players need to figure out game objectives and game mechanics, says Billy Shum, managing partner at venture catalyst firm Stream Global, and former president of Neopets Asia, a virtual pet community. 

    While Billy feels that using games designed specifically for entertainment are not (naturally) good vehicles for education,they do have side benefits. He explains: “Players need to master those ‘skills’in order to be good at the game, so the game does encourage logical thinking, planning and reading (such as FAQs or Wikipedia pages).”

    Some parents have found that their kids learn new vocabulary. Benedict Koh, 50, an engineer, says: “I was impressed when my 12-year-old talked about Pokemon ‘spawning’. That’s a word I would relate to the eggs of fish and frogs!”

     

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  • Maths
    4 / 5 Maths

    You know how golfers take along a scorecard on the golf course?

    Well, make one for a scheduled Pokemon Go hunt.

    Create a simple table based on a one-hour Pokemon Go gameplay experience.

    Get the kids to record, for example:
    ? how many Pokemon (new or not) individual family members catch
    ? how many Pokeballs are “lost”
    ? points for good Pokeball throwing skills 

    Have them turn it into a graph or chart at home. It will earn the deserving players some bragging rights, too!

     

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  • Science
    5 / 5 Science

    “During battles, water-type Pokemon are effective against fire-type ones. Fire-type Pokemon, on the other hand, are weak against water, but strong against ice and steel. The fire-versus-steel topic can lead to the concept of material science – of how metals are shaped by blacksmiths and how water can be a conductor for electricity,” Albert explains.

    The game also teaches kids about life cycles, too. 

    “Evolving Pokemon is an important process in the game,” he adds. “Some of the Pokemon actually go through the same life cycle of real insects.”

    For instance: 
    Weedle > Kakuna > Beedrill  
    Caterpie > Metapod > Butterfree 

    “These can be interesting introductory life-cycle information for kids,”Albert says. 

     

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