Reflections and Refraction Lesson Plan: Prisoner of Echo Science Game

Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

In this refraction lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 5-12, students will explore wave interactions (including interference, reflection, refraction, and diffraction) through this online science game play and other BrainPOP resources. Students will describe the characteristics and parts of sound waves, and explain the Doppler effect. Both the game and the lesson plan are excellent for use after viewing BrainPOP’s related Refraction and Diffraction movie.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Describe wave interactions including interference, reflection, refraction, and diffraction.
  2. Describe the characteristics and parts of sound waves.
  3. Explain the Doppler effect.


  • Computers with internet access for BrainPOP
  • Interactive whiteboard (or just an LCD projector)
  • Class set of photocopies of a blank page divided into two columns and 5 rows
  • Scissors
  • Pencils


transverse wave, longitudinal wave, sound wave, compression, rareifaction, oscilloscope, amplitude, frequency, echo


In Prisoner of Echo, students play a researcher trapped on the asteroid 60 Echo. The researcher is in a facility patrolled by robots gone haywire, and must rely exclusively on sound to navigate his or her surroundings, communicate, and detect escapees. To foil the bots and escape the base, students must use their wits, their knowledge about the properties of sound, and a Sonic Visualizer (a special device that allows them to see sound waves).

This game is designed to be used in inclusive science classrooms that have a diverse range of students (e.g., average and above average students, students with high incidence disabilities, English language learners, and students who struggle with reading). It is designed using the Universal Design for Learning framework, strategically aligned to key state standards, and formulated to integrate seamlessly with existing curricula.

You can watch an overview video of the game below, or learn more about it at the Filament Games website, which portions of this game description have been adapted from.

To prepare for this lesson, divide a blank sheet of 8.5x11 paper into two columns and five rows, then make a class set of photocopies. You should also preview the movie and the game to familiarize yourself with the various resources.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Explain to students that they will have the chance to learn about the properties of sound through an online game. They will attempt to escape an asteroid base that’s been overrun by acoustical robots (blind robots that understand the world purely through sound). Load the game page and click on "Dictionary" to display the key terms associated with the game. Tell students that they will participate in a vocabulary activity that will help them be successful in the game.
  2. Divide students into small groups and have them work with their group to create a memory game. They should write one vocabulary term in each of the left hand sections of the paper, then decide on a definition for each word and write those on the right hand sections directly across from the corresponding word. Students may use textbooks and the internet to assist them, but encourage students to put the definitions in their own words and make them as succinct as possible. You can also play the Sound Movie for the class and invite students to use information from the video to help them compose their definitions.
  3. After the groups are done with this task, click on each word in the game's dictionary and talk about the definitions that are displayed. How are they different from the definitions that students created? Encourage each group to add to or edit their definitions as they hear their classmate's responses, and choose one that makes the most sense to them.
  4. Allow students to cut apart the sections of their paper and mix their cards up. They should place the cards face down and take turns flipping them over to match the definitions with the words. The player who gets the most matches wins. Provide approximately 10 minutes for this vocabulary reinforcement activity, encouraging groups to play again if they have time.
  5. Project the Prisoner of Echo game for the class to see, and walk them through the step of choosing a character. Read the introductory screens together. You may want to select one student to read the auditor's lines and one to read the alien's lines. Explain that when students play the game on their own, they can skip over this portion.
  6. Continue guiding students through the first few minutes of game play, drawing attention to the objective in the top left corner. Talk about strategies as a class. You may want to point out that students can move several steps at once on the moss level.
  7. Allow students to play the game independently or in pairs for approximately 15 minutes.
  8. Bring the class back to a whole group discussion to talk about game strategies. Encourage them to use related vocabulary terms that they reviewed prior to the game to describe sound waves.
  9. Provide students with more time to explore the game using the strategies they learned during the class discussion.
  10. You may want to use the Sound Quiz and/or the Graphic Organizer as a review tool or to assess student learning. You can also encourage students to explore the FYI features and learn more about decibels, the history of sound research, and careers that deal with sound.

Extension Activity:

Be sure to check out our other free online Science Games in GameUp!