Moonbase Alpha pairs nicely with units on astronomy or space exploration, but, given its learning outcomes, it's a nice option for students who need help with time/resource management. There's also a handy educator's guide that gives background and context, and plenty of lesson plans to use. Since there's tons of other resources about space and astronomy on Common Sense Education, encourage students to search for something that sparks interest and to complete a research project, or build something that demonstrates learning. Students who are particularly drawn to Moonbase Alpha might also enjoy Kerbal Space Program. In Kerbal, the challenge isn't surviving on the moon, but getting there, so it will actually provide an interesting precursor to Moonbase Alpha in a longer unit.Continue reading Show less
Moonbase Alpha throws students into the middle of a hectic NASA mission on the surface of the moon. They see a foreign object apparently strike the lunar base they're staffing and must fix the equipment, repairing the sustainability of the self-sufficient base. After a sparse introduction on how to use the tools, students must race around the lunar surface against the meager 25 minute clock. Once students get oriented to the task and the tools, they will quickly learn to protect every second they have, allowing them to make mistakes and correct them when needed. The controls are not very intuitive and will take a little bit of time to get students oriented.
This is not a game for learning about the moon or space, but about the practical challenges of being an astronaut. If integrated with more content-focused lessons, Moonbase Alpha can go a long way to engage students in the subject, giving them valuable context about how science is done in space, and the challenges and pressures astronauts face. Improving communication skills, teamwork, and meeting goals are core features of the game. Students may even work as competing teams, allowing them to use a little friendly rivalry as fuel for creative solutions.
Key Standards Supported
Earth’s Place in the Universe
Develop and use a model to describe the role of gravity in the motions within galaxies and the solar system.
Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.
Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object.
Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
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