Prizewinning Educational Games from the Nobel Foundation


Marie Curie, Martin Luther King Jr, Albert Einstein, Sir Alexander Fleming, Mother Teresa; all of these amazing individuals have one thing in common – winning the Nobel Prize. The Nobel Prize is one of the most highly regarded awards given to people working in the fields of literature, medicine, physics, chemistry, peace, and economics. But the Nobel Foundation is more than just an award giving Foundation, and has branched out into creating educational content related to the hard work done by Nobel Prize winners. Not only does their website contain video clips, documentaries, literature and history related to the winners, but it has over 29 interactive educational games for students to learn about key scientific, economic, literature and peace concepts.

Peace Prize Games

The Nobel Foundation has four compelling Peace Prize games that touch on important political and human rights issues such as nuclear weapons, prisoners of war, conflicts and democracies. The Prisoners of War game puts students in a position of creating a POW camp in line with the Geneva Convention protocols. It makes students think of how the convention is used practically during times of conflict, and gets them to make difficult decisions such as who to treat as a POW, what facilities the camp should have and addressing POW scenarios. After each segment, the students’ decisions are evaluated and links are given to the actual sections of the Geneva Convention for reference.

The game teaches students about making moral decisions based in line with human rights legislation, and the scenarios used are interesting and well-constructed. Two other games use interactive maps to describe interesting facts about democracies and conflicts around the world that would be very useful for any History, Civics or Politics lessons.

Nobel Prize Games

Science Games

Aside from the Peace games, the Foundation has also focused on games related to scientific discoveries in Physics, Medicine, and Chemistry. The most popular of their science games, the Blood Typing Game, takes students through a scenario of helping to save sick patients who need blood transfusions. Nearly 40,000 comments have been recorded by the Nobel Foundation about “The Blood Typing Game” and it has been played over 7 million times. This game explores the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, awarded to Karl Landsteiner for the discovery of human blood groups. Their job is to make sure that each patient is given the correct blood type and to administer safe transfusions. It teaches students the differences between blood types and to see which are compatible with transfusions. The game uses detailed graphics of the cell and students have to manually mix and inject blood into their patients. This is a great way of teaching students about cells and blood without jumping into the ethical minefield of using real human subjects!

Nobel Prize Games

The DNA game is another extremely popular game on the site, based on the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, where students learn all about the structure of a DNA molecule. It helps them understand the differences between their own DNA and the DNA of other organisms. The game is structured around making copies of a double-stranded DNA molecule by matching base pairs to each strand, and then to guessing what organism the DNA belongs to. As with all of the games on the site, the DNA game would be a great supplement to a science lesson to engage students in a sometimes difficult topic.

The Pavlov’s Dog game is based on the achievements of Ivan Pavlov who was awarded the 1904 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. This fun game teaches students about conditioned reflexes by training a dog to drool on command. The aim of the game is to train a dog to respond to a signal that it associates with being fed. Players have to choose the right signals or the dog will not pay attention to them. This simple game explains a sometimes difficult concept clearly and with clever graphics.

Literature Games

Not forgetting some of the most famous of all of the prize winners, such as William Golding and Samuel Beckett, the website features three games based on literature prize winners. Although not as detailed as the Science and Peace games, the Find the Authors word search details literature prize winners, and the Lord of the Flies game introduces students to analysing literature and improving memory. All of the games include additional resources so that students can learn more about the game they have played such as documentaries, reports and images.

Karin Svanholm, Project Manager at Nobel Media explained to us why the educational games were initially created “The mission for the web site is to inform about the Nobel Prize awarded achievements. Since much of the scientific content on the web site is quite advanced, it was decided in year 2000 to “popularize” the Nobel Prize awarded work for the younger audience. We started to make both animated text documents and more game like productions and we noticed pretty quickly that the educational games were the productions that were most used and most quickly spread. Also all comments kindly sent to us from the users were nearly all concerning the games, and not the animated text documents.”

“Teachers have told us they use the games either as a fun introduction to a new subject, or, if they have computers in the classroom, they can play during the lesson. Sometimes they recommend the students to test themselves in a certain subject by playing the games more like homework. The games are interactive animated tools that often can help visualize stuff. Many students say they remember and understand stuff easier when they are part “doing” things, also we have noticed when studying the students when playing our games that they kind of get caught in trying and trying over again until they get a good result which could be ending up on a high score or get a certain number of points and so on.”

Teachers have commented that their students are able to play the games without having to damage any humans and apply theory to live situations. Many students were motivated to read information about the topics more deeply.

These educational games derived from some of the most exciting developments in science, literature and peace studies are a must for any teacher looking to supplement their classroom with fun and engaging games. Try out all of the games for free on the Nobel Prize Educational section.