Planet Mechanic

Planet Mechanic is a game-based app that teaches users how different planetary variables (e.g., orbital distance, rotation rate, tilt, atmosphere, and moons) impact a planet’s environment. From the app’s main menu, users can continue a previous game or begin a new one. When playing a game, users are presented a challenge by a character in the game, and they complete the challenge by adjusting different planetary variables. For example, one challenge requires users to create longer days. To complete it, users must adjust the planet’s rotation rate in order to alter the length of a day. While they…

Review Overview

A. Instruction - 6.8
B. Design - 7.5
C. Engagement - 8.3

7.5

Planet Mechanic: An App for Earth Space Science

Summary : Control Planetary Variables Here!

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Planet Mechanic is a game-based app that teaches users how different planetary variables (e.g., orbital distance, rotation rate, tilt, atmosphere, and moons) impact a planet’s environment. From the app’s main menu, users can continue a previous game or begin a new one. When playing a game, users are presented a challenge by a character in the game, and they complete the challenge by adjusting different planetary variables. For example, one challenge requires users to create longer days. To complete it, users must adjust the planet’s rotation rate in order to alter the length of a day. While they complete the challenge, the app explains to them the science behind the request and the planetary forces they must modify in order to complete it. After users have completed a challenge, they are asked a multiple-choice question before advancing to the next one. If they answer the question correctly, they earn a challenge point. If they answer incorrectly, the app shows them the correct answer. At this point, users are advanced to the next challenge within the game.

Instructional Ideas

  1. As an introduction to an earth space science lesson, teachers can allow students to play this game to learn about different planetary variables that will be taught in the upcoming lesson. If there is a specific challenge teachers want students to complete, they can have students choose that challenge from the menu. After students have had time to complete the lesson, teachers can open a class discussion by asking students how they adjusted the planetary variable to complete the challenge.
  2. After completing a challenge, teachers can have students research that variable as it relates to other planets. For example, if the challenge requires users to tilt the planet so different seasons can occur, teachers can have students research the tilt of planets in the solar system. After their tilts have been found, teachers can ask students to describe the type of seasons the different planets have based on their tilts. Students can respond in writing using an Office app or verbally. Teachers can modify this assignment so students complete it with a partner or in small groups.
  3. The final mission titled “That’s No Moon” allows students to manipulate the planetary variables with no specific mission to accomplish. Teachers can use this level for students to develop their own missions and challenge their classmates to complete them. Teachers can add a twist to this activity by allowing students who tried unsuccessfully to complete a mission the opportunity to challenge the student who created it. If the student who created the challenge is unable to complete it, the challenge must be changed in order for it to be completed.
A1. Rigor
A2. 21st Century Skills
A3. Conn. to Future Learning
A4. Value of Errors
A5. Feedback to Teacher
A6. Level of Material
A7. Cooperative Learning
A8. Accom. of Individual Diff.
B1. Ability to Save Progress
B2. Platform Integration
B3. Screen Design
B4. Ease of Use
B5. Navigation
B6. Goal Orientation
B7. Information Presentation
B8. Media Integration
B9. Cultural Sensitivity
C1. Learner Control
C2. Interactivity
C3. Pace
C4. Flexibility
C5. Interest
C6. Aesthetics
C7. Utility
B8. Media Integration
B9. Cultural Sensitivity