Mar 24, 2022
By: Barry Soltz
Playing Pokémon with my children is something we both enjoy - I get to spend time with them and they get to be excited about playing the beloved game. Part of Pokémon is learning about the different animals and mammals in the Pokémon world. That is when it dawned on me that some Pokémon are mammals… and if I wanted to, I could create a unit where students can learn about taxonomical groups in mammals. They could study what traits and behaviors each share with specific Pokémon and expand their knowledge using a world that they love.
I could also teach basic anatomy and functions of the different parts of the brain with the focus primarily on how the behavior and abilities of certain Pokémon can be explained with basic neuroscience. For example, how does Meganium's sweet smell calm its foes? Why does Haunter cause seizures when he licks people? And why would looking at Polywhirl's belly make you sleepy? The answers to all these questions can be found in an exploration of the human brain. As a culminating activity, I had students design their own Pokémon that affects a specific part or function in the brain. Needless to say, most of my students loved science because of their love for Pokémon.
This enthusiasm started to spill over outside of the classroom. Kids spent their 30-minute lunch battling Pokémon in my classroom. Parents even showed up to have lunch and battle. Winners got the satisfaction of having the most powerful cards, and that’s a big deal! This lunch gathering became an unofficial club - an official Pokémon club. Third-grade through sixth-grade students battled twice a week after school to see who had the most powerful decks. Age did not matter. It’s strategy. It’s cards. And yes…a little luck.
Without a passion for learning, students can lose focus and interest. The good news: The teacher’s and the parents’ excitement can be contagious! Expressing our passion for teaching or the subject we teach, can grab students’ attention and drive engagement.