The Adventures of Josie True

This fun web game stars 11 year-old Josie, a Chinese-American 4th grader. Her teacher, Ms. Trombone, goes missing the day before the class’s big field trip, and Josie takes it on herself to find out what happened. The game was created in 1999 by Mary Flanagan, a professor of media studies, to bring technology to underrepresented groups. Professor Flanagan hoped to draw in 9- to 11-year-old girls to help them increase their math, science, and technology skills. While they travel back in time with Josie to Chicago and Paris, girls learn how to manipulate the website and solve fun puzzles based on math or science. They learn about how technologies work and can find role models in both Josie, who courageously decides to rescue her favorite teacher and solve the mystery, and Ms. Trombone, who is an inventor as well as a teacher. This is a relatively simple game; players simply click through different rooms, solving puzzles and answering questions along the way. These questions test math and science skills, as well as spatial awareness (matching shapes) and reading skills. Josie’s diary is also available for online viewing, and there are online quiz games and offline science experiment ideas (I particularly like the “How to Make Slime” activity). After rescuing her teacher from Chicago, 1922, the two go to Paris and have all kinds of excellent adventures. This is an easy, fun game to introduce 9- to 11-year-old girls to online gaming.

Why I recommend this game:
Josie True is a wonderful heroine, especially because she represents groups that are often left out of the online community – girls and minorities. She meets famous women from history, such as Bessie Coleman, the first African-American international aviator. Professor Flanagan is “demonstrating how the Internet can be an egalitarian tool for self-expression.” (NY Times article 3/29/00). The mystery and puzzles will help draw them in; the game is engaging without being pedantic. I love that this game appeals to girls, especially non-white girls, and may help them gain computer skills and realize that they can be just as good at math and science as their male peers – no matter what society tells them. This is a great message within a great game, and I think young girls would get a lot out of it.

The Adventures of Josie True: http://www.josietrue.com

Other Resources:
http://www.nytimes.com/2000/03/29/business/is-anybody-not-out-for-e-billions-josie-true-for-one.html

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