Nintendo Wii - a training tool or just a game?Featured science projectScience project video

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Complexity level:
6
Project cost ($):
120
Time required:
1 day to prepare, 14 days for science project experiment
Material availability:
You will need to borrow 2 Wii consoles with as many controllers as possible, and 2 copies of Wii Sports
Safety concerns:

Basic safety requirements

Abstract

Have you ever tried playing the Wii? Have you wondered whether the Wii can actually be used to teach someone who has never tried playing tennis, bowling or golf, how to play? This science fair project was done to determine if playing the Wii can improve a child’s performance at sports. The experiment was done using the Nintendo Wii Sports game.

Hypothesis

Playing Wii Sports will help inexperienced participants improve their performance at the actual game.

Background

Wii sports video game

Videos have been used as a training tool in many sports like golf, swimming or tennis. However, these videos serve as "instruction manuals", providing only audio and visual information and tips.

The introduction of motion-detecting sports video games like Wii Sports by Nintendo, allows players to interact and have hands-on participation in a simulated sports game. There are 5 types of Wii Sports games – golf, bowling, tennis, baseball and boxing. The advent of the motion sensor Wii game controller enables the player to hold a game controller, almost as he would hold the actual sport equipment, i.e.to swing it like a bowling ball, racket or a golf club, simulating movement in an actual sports game. These games also have a "training mode" to help train players in specific skills required for the sport.

Educationists are starting to recognize the ability of video games to contribute in  training and learning. They realize that video games actually do  help to enhance a student’s interest, understanding, as well as his performance in sports.
 

Scientific Terms

Wii sports, motion sensors

Materials

The materials required for this science fair project:

-    5 boys and 5 girls age 12
-    Access to a golf driving range, golf clubs of the correct size
-    Access to a bowling alley and a bowling ball
-    A tennis court, 2 tennis rackets, tennis balls and a tennis instructor
-    2 Wii video game consoles, and two copies of the Wii Sports software.
 

Procedure

1.    For this science fair project, the independent variable is the amount of exposure the participant has, training on the Wii sports video games. The dependent variable is the performance of the participants in the selected game before and after training. This is determined by observing their performance. The constants (control variables) are the age of the participants, the length of time they train on the video games each day and the total number of days they trained.

2.    5 boys and 5 girls age 12 with no previous experiencing in playing golf, tennis or bowling are randomly selected.

3.    The 10 participants are brought to the golf driving range with a putting green, to practice putting. The golf ball is placed 1 m away from the hole. Using a putter, the participants are required to gently "push"  the ball into the hole. Each participant is allowed 10 attempts. After all participants have completed their attempts, the number of times the ball was putted successfully into the hole, is totaled and divided by 10 to calculate the average results. The results are recorded in the table below.

4.    The 10 participants are next brought to the tennis court. The tennis instructor will help serve the balls and the participants have to hit the balls back across the net. Each participant is allowed 10 attempts. After everyone has completed their attempts, the number of hits is totaled and divided by 10 to obtain the average number of hits. The results are recorded in the table given below.

5.    Finally, the 10 participants are brought to the bowling alley. Each participant is given 10 attempts to bowl. If the participants are able to knock down more than 3 pins in one attempt, they are considered to have succeeded. After all of them have completed their attempts, the number of successful bowls are totaled and divided by 10 to obtain the average number of successful bowls and the results are recorded in the table given below.

6.    For the next 12 days, each of the students are required to intensively play the Wii video games for at least 2 hours a day.

On days Days 1, 4, 7 and 10 they will play Wii golf.
On days 2, 5, 8 and 11 they will play Wii tennis
On days 3, 6, 9 and 12 they will play Wii bowling

7.    On the last day, procedures 3,  4 to  5 are repeated and the results are recorded in the table given below.
 

Observation

The results show that the participants’ performance in all 3 sports improved after the 12 days training on the Wii sports video games.
 

Sport Average no. of successful attempts - before playing on video games Average no. of successful attempts - after playing on video games
Golf 2.1 3.7
Tennis 1.7 2.8
Bowling 1.9 4.3

The graph below represents the results of our science experiment:
 

Wii sports science fair project

Conclusion

The hypothesis that playing Wii sports video games can help inexperienced participants to improve their performance at sports is proven to be true.

Playing Wii sports video games in training mode helps players to understand the basics of the games and some of the techniques required for  each sport.. The video game helps the participants to be more mentally prepared in playing the actual games.But ultimately, nothing beats the real thing. A video game helps train you in terms of rythme, timing, and gives you a rough idea how to swing a bat, racket or club. But it's really not the same as the real thing - perhaps one day, technology will be so advanced that real sporting gear can be used to play the video game!

 

Also consider

The science fair project can be also be repeated with other sports such as race car driving, basket ball, or boxing.

Do you think video games help make a person smarter or think faster? What about reaction time? Try performing the drop test before, and after "training" on an action game (eg, a good old fashioned shoot-em-up game, or for that matter, any arcade/action game)
 

References

Wii sports - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wii_Sports

Incorporating video games into physical education - http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-161065915.html
 

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