Thinking of teachers (& students): Making Camp Navajo Out of Beta

When we created the beta version of Making Camp Navajo, we were in the middle of a pandemic. Schools wanted more advanced content and we had a game designer and community manager from the Navajo Nation who was able to connect us with some additional cultural experts, so it was a natural next game for us to do.

Like any beta version, it was okay. All of the math instructional content was correct, we had a unit of lessons on ratio and proportion that included playing the game. Still, like any beta version, there were aspects that could be better. We’ve spent lots of time in classrooms ourselves, and we understand that when students can’t work independently, it’s frustrating for them and takes time away from the teacher.

Changes to Make Students’ (and, hence, Teachers’) Lives Easier

TL; DR – we made it a lot less likely that students would need to call over the teacher for help.

  1. Any equivalent ratio is now scored correct. and extra spaces are ignored. The blue corn mush math problems were too easy to get wrong. For one of the problems, if a student answered 2:10 instead of 1:5, it was scored incorrect. Those are equivalent. Also, if a student entered spaces like 1 : 5 it was scored wrong. Why would someone enter it like that? As with many things people do, I have no idea, but I do know it ends with the student calling over the teacher and asking why their answer is wrong.
  2. The default screen size now fits on the smallest Chromebooks. The original screen size was a little bigger than the smallest Chromebooks, which meant the next arrow could be off the screen and the student wouldn’t see it. This resulted in them calling the teacher over who either told the student to scroll down or to zoom out and view the game at 90%.
Smiling African American female teacher standing near whiteboard and looking at schoolgirl raising hand
Photo by Katerina Holmes on
  1. We added LOADS of hints. Every page now has a header with a ? in a button the top right. Clicking on that button will give you a hint on how to solve the problem, whether it is instructions to click the colored “brush” on the right and then click the square on the “rug”, an equation to use to solve a problem for milk replacer ratio or to click the corn borers to squash them.
  2. The question applying the ratio of water to milk replacer has a random number of lambs, so it isn’t always the same problem.
  3. A hundred little changes that add up – whether it was the title not quite centered, adding wiggly corn borers to pages where these pests are discussed or an extra few pixels of padding around the score box, players don’t notice these changes individually, but they come together to make a game look more professional, and more like something students want to play.

You can learn more about Making Camp Navajo here – or just go here to play the game.

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