Galaxy Tours is the result of a design research project commissioned by Noordhoff Publishers. It is a concept for a hybrid classroom game that enables students to playfully explore fundamental concepts from astronomy.
Exploring the potential of classroom games
The game’s premise is based in a near future when commercial space flight has become viable. Students play in teams, each representing a space agency. They are required to plan trips around earth for affluent space tourists. The most interesting route wins the game, but players need to take into account such things as day-night cycles, time zones, orbits and so on.
Noordhoff is one of the Netherlands’s leading publishers of educational material for elementary, secondary and higher education. They have a well developed digital offering, and approached us to jointly explore the potential of games and play in secondary education. The project was focused on the natural sciences, and more specifically on astronomy.
In stead of theorizing, we chose a hands-on approach, working together with people from Noordhoff and science teachers to generate a number of concepts and develop and test one of them into a full-fledged analog prototype. In this way, any solution we came up with was guaranteed to support the intended learning goals, be well integrated with Noordhoff’s existing tools and methods, and also be mindful of teachers’s practice and last but not least, students’s motivations.
The lessons learned from this project can inform future strategies of Noordhoff as they relate to games, as well as our own continued work in the domain of education.