Monday, January 31, 2011

Using the Game of Mastermind to Teach Scientific Reasoning Skills

Mastermind "In order to develop into effective researchers, educators, and science professionals, students must internalize basic principles of scientific reasoning and experimental design. Scientific reasoning skills can improve with training, but they can be difficult to impart as abstract concepts in the classroom. Here, we discuss the potential for using the game of Mastermind as a tool to help students develop logic skills, design effective experiments, and discuss scientific reasoning in the classroom or lab.
The English code-breaking game known as Bulls and Cows, popularized as the board game Mastermind, has been adapted for applications in fields such as mathematics, computing, and psychology. Mastermind has been proposed as a tool for teaching logic in mathematics courses, but the problem-solving skills emphasized by the game are also relevant to the life sciences. We propose that the game can be used to teach specific lessons and spark discussions about scientific reasoning, covering topics such as sound experimental design, hypothesis-testing, careful interpretation of results, and the effective use of controls."

Using the Game of Mastermind to Teach, Practice, and Discuss Scientific Reasoning Skills. (2011) PLoS Biol 9(1): e1000578. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000578


  1. I got Mastermind on the iPad for my daughter recently. It made me goggle it, and that image came up. Man, how I remember that cover! A good game, but once you've developed a strategy not much more to it.
    Three white pegs

  2. Interesting thought. I wonder how many old board games will get a new lease of life via the iPad.