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Peer Review

MesoAmerican Ballgame



Overall Numeric Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 4.75 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: Oct 13, 2010 by History Editorial Board
Overview: The MesoAmerican Ballgame provides the opportunity to examine the pre-Columbian history and culture of Mexico. An interactive map guides the user throuogh the worlds of the Olmec, Maya, and Aztec populations of Mexico and Central America. Users explore the world of Mexico's native populations, the history and the sport of the ballgame using the art of Mexico's native populations. This is a very appealing animation for young students. It offers a great tool to introduce them to Mesoamerican cultures. It has 4 main sections and includes a time line, videos, music and a quiz. Highly interactive, it offers many possibilities to use as homework material in fields such as history, visual arts, social studies and language.
Type of Material: Simulation.
Recommended Uses: In class, individual, team, homework. To supplement the teaching of Pre-Columbia nations in the Americas.
Technical Requirements: Flash 5+. Internet Explorer 5+. QuickTime 4+ to play the videos.
Identify Major Learning Goals: The student will learn about Mesoamerican cultures in a funny and interactive way.
Target Student Population: High School and College.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Basic computer skills. Some knowledge about Mexico and Central America's native-american nation states would be helpful.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: The site is divided into four parts: Explore the world, Explore the game, Experience the Game, and Experience the Exhibit. Each part teaches the history and culture of various native-american populations through their art. The populations discussed are: Olmec, Western Mexico, Teotihuacan, Maya, Veracruz, Toltec, Huastic, Aztec, and Spanish. Information is provided via an interactive timeline which tells the history in the Formative, Classic, and Post-Classic Periods. The timeline also offers information about cultures in other parts of the world. The material for each population group offers the following categories: When, Where, Cultures, Major Accomplishments, and Ballgame Connection. The interactive map provides much useful information.
Concerns: The content may seem superficial. However, because this is information seldom discussed in classrooms or written about in any detail in textbooks, most of it will seem new, even though brief, and overwhelming for many students.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The site offers some classroom suggestions under Classroom Activities. They are rated for grades 3-12. Most seem geared for elementary school. However, the content material can be developed into information collection exercises and the basis for further research. To play the ballgame and win the game requires remembering information on the site. It is a very effective tool to encourage young students to learn about a not so appealing subject, “lured” by an engaging ballgame.
Concerns: This site was created to accompanying a traveling museum exhibit (now closed as of January 1, 2003). Therefore, it was not designed for extensive development of learning objects for classroom use. Nevertheless, the site has excellent interactive components which students will benefit from as they learn about pre-Columbian civilizations. It focuses a little too much on the ballgame, it could have more information on the other aspects of the Mesoamerican cultures, but for an introduction, works just fine.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: The site is easy to navigate. Icons help navigation as do words position along the bottom and top of the screen. Flash 5+ plugin, 5.0+ browser, and Quicktime 4 are required but each can be downloaded. Playing the ballgame is great fun as well as a learning exercise. The interactive map and timeline enhance learning.
Concerns: The site section: Experiencing the Exhibit is out of date. It is hoped that the site will be well maintained now that the exhibit is over.

Other Issues and Comments: This site was great fun to navigate and the game is enjoyable.