Menlo-Park based SRI International was awarded a contract to evaluate “Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond,” a NASA-themed, multi-player, online game designed to attract student interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. The game will visualize a dynamic future in space exploration, scientific discovery, and aeronautics research.
“Educational online games have the potential to inspire, engage, and educate today’s youth, many of whom spend much of their time in virtual spaces,” said Marianne Bakia, Ph.D., senior policy analyst at SRI International and principal investigator of the study. “By providing a rigorous evaluation, we hope to offer insights to effective public-private partnerships that can contribute to online programs that increase student knowledge and interest in STEM topics.”
Set in 2035, “Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond” takes place in a virtual depiction of our solar system, where participants control avatars that traverse space, and other-worldly landscapes such as Mars, the asteroid belt, and moons of Jupiter or Saturn. Players, educators, scientific experts, and the public will interact with each other to win technological artifacts, build bases, and explore the solar system. Along the way, they can interact with digital content from the world of space exploration, including planetary destinations, Hubble telescope images, and prototypes of the next generation of rovers, robotics, and spacecraft.