practices, even if the games themselves do not appear to be about science at all.
For example, when children in the GMU ITEST program design a basketball game, they find themselves compelled to learn the laws of motion that govern the trajectory of the basketball as it is dribbled, passed, and shot, either explicitly or implicitly by trial and error. Similarly, if they fail to apply gravitational forces appropriately to all elements of the game environment, parts of it (e.g. the court) will start floating in space. In general, designing a game requires students to be aware of, understand, and use scientific principles they do not need to understand to merely participate. No child needs to know physics or geometry to shoot a basketball, for example, but if they want to give a virtual player in their game the power to shoot and score, they do.
Most participants quickly learn that the best way to solve design problems is to vary only one variable at a time, a fundamental principle of the scientific method. As they get more involved in the program, they start engaging in more sophisticated scientific