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It is no secret the government is looking into ways to get careers in science and math to be more interesting to American youth and to boost overall interest in math and science classes. NASA is attempting to boost the interest by appealing to an interest shared by most youth, gaming.
Through interactive technologies such as virtual worlds, games and software applications, NASA wants to encourage American youth and teachers to take interest in science, technology, engineering and math. The goal seeks to inspire, engage and educate students about NASA technologies, job opportunities and the future of U.S. and international space exploration.
NASA’s first game is called Moonbase Alpha and it was developed with the assistance of the Army Game Studio, who also created the very popular America’s Army game. While the America’s Army game has morphed into more than 38 versions, each offering true-to-life Soldier experiences — from training through combat missions — Moonbase Alpha allows gamers to step into the role of an astronaut at a futuristic 3-D lunar settlement. Players are part of a group of weaponless astronauts tasked with solving a life-support problem, is more of an exercise in planning and time-management.
With a target audience of middle school and high school students, Moonbase Alpha has already generated more than 100,000 downloads in less than two weeks.
Motivating youth towards areas like science and math is no easy feat but it is great news that NASA is approaching the challenge by connecting with the demographic in a way that will garner some kind of interest. Understanding how a demographic functions and what the best way to introduce the desired messaging is is half the battle. It will be interesting to see if this game has any sort of long term impact towards getting youth motivated towards science and math courses and ultimately careers.