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Help Nelson the Robot power his factory with his trusty radiation gun while energizing your understanding of wave properties and the electromagnetic spectrum.

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ThermBot: Wave Blaster is a digital science simulation game that shows students how radiation waves, its properties (medium, wavelength, frequency, and thermal energy), and the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum are associated with everyday objects.


Students play Nelson, a robot who is attempting to power the factory he lives in. Using his radiation gun, Nelson matches the thermal energy of an object with the thermal energy of the gun. Each of the objects (e.g. a human, cat, bunsen burner, nuclear bomb, etc.) emit different waves that correspond with their thermal energy, which is their natural radiation or temperature. As the power meter advances, different objects appear and Nelson must become more precise in matching energies of the object with that of the gun.


Wave Blaster shows the relationships between the EM spectrum, wave length and frequency, and thermal energy and temperature.

Wave Blaster’s simple game mechanics make it accessible for students to jump in and start playing. However, the omission of an in-game tutorial makes the presence of a teacher facilitator essential. Students will get the most from the game when prompted to notice the relationships between wave properties and the EM spectrum. Through asking guiding questions, teachers assist students in gaining an understanding and appreciation of the unseen aspects of their world.

wave blaster Breakdown


Moving the cursor up and down indicates what type of wave the radiation gun emits by showing a label that displays the type of wave being emitted along the electromagnetic spectrum (i.e. gamma, x-ray, ultraviolet, visible, infrared, microwave, and radio).


The goal of the game is to match the wave of the radiation gun with that of the object before it reaches the end of the conveyer belt. Students choose to shoot different types of waves by sliding across the pictures, which helps them visualize how long the actual waves are. For example, since radio waves are approximately the length of a football field, their image is a football field. On the other side of the spectrum, gamma rays are smaller than an atom, as illustrated by the small gamma rays among a group of atom parts.


Note the difference in wave frequency and wavelength when the cursor in on "Gamma" and when it's on "Radio".

If correct, the object is released from its box and the temperature of the object appears - this represents the temperature that the object naturally gives off (e.g., humans emit a temperature of 37 degrees Celsius). As students get more objects correct, the power meter above the radiation gun increases and they eventually advance to later rounds.


Matching thermal energy of the radiation gun with the item on the conveyer belt will release the object from its box.

By round six, the spectrum for each type of wave divides into two. Students need to observe the wave frequencies and temperatures in more detail. For example, although both the red hot poker and the bunsen burner fall into the visible light spectrum, their wave frequencies and temperatures are different from one another. These differences are perceptible at round six and not before.

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