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Bringing Mars Down to Earth: Designing Educational Games with Real Science for Low Income Students


Peter Slattery (Game Designer, IDEO)

Kate Schnippering (Software Design Lead, IDEO)

Location: Room 3020, West Hall

Date: Friday, March 23

Time: 10:00am - 11:00am

Pass Type: All Access, GDC Conference + Summits, GDC Conference, GDC Summits, Expo Plus, Expo, Audio Conference + Tutorial, Educators Summit, Indie Games Summit, Student Expo Pass - Get your pass now!

Topic: Advocacy

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

The Verizon Innovative Learning explorer lab is a multisensory mobile AR bus-meets-spaceship. The explorer lab takes low income middle school students on a field trip to Mars, and is custom-tailored to measurably activate interest in STEM. IDEO, in collaboration with Whiskytree and West Coast Customs, crafted the explorer lab from scratch to pilot in 9 months. This talk will showcase the application of IDEO's human-centered design approach to game and software development. Specific methods for tackling educational objectives in games (i.e. imparting real science through Martian rover engineering), for reaching a range of students from those who can barely read to those three grades above average, and for designing interaction modalities on a new hardware/software platform will be discussed.


Game designers will gain insights into designing educational experiences, playtesting to learn rather than to validate designs, and how to incorporate real science into their games. Educators and scientists will learn how play can be used to reach students and how to overcome the challenges presented when educating through play.

Intended Audience

Martian enthusiasts, citizen scientists, educators and STEM advocates. Game designers with interest/experience in educational games. This is not a technical talk, although it will speak to systems and implementation.