The educational game designers at MIT’s Education Arcade have been working with Smithsonian scientists and educators to create an online curated game for middle school students to be played over six weeks in the spring of 2011.
In the game, players will receive encoded messages from scientists in the far future. These scientists are writing because much of the scientific record has been destroyed. Through scientific reasoning, research and exploratory challenges at museums, online collaboration with other players, and online experiment simulations, players unravel a multilayered mystery about the possible future of our earth – a science fiction scenario that incorporates very real environmental issues and natural science.
Players will explore, hypothesize, and test in the areas of cryptography, mathematics, anthropology, astronomy, climatology, zoology, environmental science, paleontology, archeology, and forensics.
How can Affiliates play? During several weeks, players will be encouraged to collect “clues” – many of which can come from the Affiliate network. Affiliates are encouraged to participate at any number of levels – from minimal to fully engaged. Here are some examples of Affiliate involvement:
- Encourage your Museum’s after-school club to play the game or distribute information sheets to your teacher constituents to encourage their students to play.
- Distribute a “clue” at your front desk to visitors who provide a particular password.
- Discuss any relevant exhibits or collections you have with the game designers, so that they may possibly be included in the game itself.
- Maintain a “drop box,” placing items (hidden clues!) in a Tupperware box on your property for gamers to find.
- Host a dedicated treasure-hunt style challenge in conjunction with the game.
The game hopes to drive student players and their families to their local Affiliate museums, to discover the resources in their own backyards that unlock the mystery of the future.
Interested in more information or how to sign up? Contact Jennifer Brundage, National Outreach Manager at 202.633.5306 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Game designers will also be discussing this opportunity at the Affiliations Annual Conference – hope to see you there!