Well the class is over, now to have a think about how much learning happened, what I would do different next time and my overall feeling about the effectiveness of the map in general.
Students 'got' the idea behind neurotransmitters. I am confident that they understand that neurotransmitters move randomly (diffuse) across the synapse to receptors and 'stick' to the receptors on the next nerve cell. They also understand that it takes a certain number of neurotransmitter molecules binding to receptors to send the signal on. I am sure that they now understand is that neurotransmitter molecules are broken down by enzymes in the synapse and why that happens. The last thing I am certain they have is that the ratio of neurotransmitter:enzyme molecules is important, too many neurotransmitters and the signal will repeatedly send, too few and the message wont get sent on. We also had some great discussions about the content, concepts and also about the learning that was happening.
Some of my demonstrations did not work out entirely as I had planned (I also built some things in the wrong places). There were some glitches that prevented the enzyme demonstration working properly, redstone is still testing, and still fairly glitchy. The nerve demonstration area was nowhere near as 'good' as I would have liked it to be, students I don't think could see the links between the content and the demonstrations.
The level of excitement in the room as we started 'playing a game' was palpable, this led to a fair amount of distraction at the beginning which slowed our progress through the map. Next time, I would seriously consider letting the play and explore part happen before the 'lesson' to get it out of their system. What I found most interesting was that my idea that these kids were older and therefore would not be as excited or distracted was completely incorrect. They were almost more excited than the younger kids, maybe it has something to do with learning in a different way after a longer time in a 'normal' classroom.
The redstone issue. I really don't know where to go here, it was rumored that they had fixed those bugs in 1.1.0, it still appears in 1.2.3, now the rumor is that it has been fixed in 1.2.4 So what next? Nothing I can do, except stop relying on it, which I had minimised as much as I could in this map, very basic circuits are still prone to bugging out. I had a series of pistons delayed by repeaters, and some of the repeaters were staying lit even though there was not a charge going into them.
The demonstration area is not secure, or complete. My plan was to get the students to have some input on the remaining demonstrations, by the time we got there, they were too eager to run around and explore the game, so I let them do that instead. Where next? I thought, as mentioned, that being older students they would be able to stay on task and that I would be able to trust them not to do the wrong thing, I was wrong, but hey I learnt something. So I will be securing the area to keep them hemmed in until I am ready for them to go free, and I have got feedback from the students about the instructions and links to the concepts that I will work through and try to improve the connections.
It was a great lesson, the reflection time I had with students at the end was very powerful, interestingly when I asked them to rate the lesson in terms of learning out of 5, most said around 3, some of the issues for them was the time to learn the game and waiting for those who were slow to move around. The server issues we had (that is what you get when testing of course) impacted on their opinions, as they prevented some of the activities working as I had designed. They all however felt that they had learnt something, and that they were more likely to remember it than if they had learnt it in the traditional way. Will I do it again, yes, here comes Neurotransmitter 3.0 :D (in 12 months time).
Thanks for reading, don't forget to comment if you want.