There are three games in this series

Gear Ratio - where two players learn the mechanics of spinning their arms to map to the diameter of an input gear.

The Winching Game – where players must use mechanical advantage to bring boulders up from a mine with the clock ticking.

Tour de Force – where two players must race up a hilly course, changing gears appropriately to win the race.

With a Gates Foundation/NGLC Wave II grant, we created a series of games that uses the Kinect in an innovative manner. These games were created in conjunction with SMALLab Learning LLC ( A design philosophy running throughout our games is that they be gesturally congruent, that means the movement matches structurally with the content to be learned. The games instruct students in the direction of gear train spinning, ratios, and mechanical advantage as these relate to the diameter of the input gear and direction of spin. To read more about how body movements should be more gesturally congruent to what is to be learned please click here.

Gear Ratio Game

We recommend playing the Gear Ratio game first so that students understand how they control the input gear. The arm should be extended directly in front of the body. The right shoulder becomes the pivot point. Tight circles around the shoulder joint make smaller gears.
Teacher guide PDF

The Winching Game

Students compete to lift boulders from a rock quarry by using a virtual winch controlled by the spinning of their right arms. The game addresses a common misconception about the size of input gears; players realize this as they attempt to lift heavier boulders. They learn about gear ratios, mechanical advantage, force, and work.
Teacher guide PDF 01
Teacher guide PDF 02

Tour de Force Gears Game

Two students compete in a hilly bike race powering the bikes with the spinning of their arms. Again, we challenge the misconception that many middle schoolers hold that “bigger is always better”. When the bike will not move up the larger hills they realize they must change the diameter of the input gear – but should it be smaller or larger? In this game they further explore gear ratios, mechanical advantage, force, and work.
Teacher guide PDF