Meteorites streak through the sky, dropping a mysterious dust. Adults fall unconscious worldwide. To rescue them, kids must figure out how to gather dirt from Mars.
Who says learning science and engineering can’t be fun?
Not NASA engineers!
Working with college students from Brigham Young University in Utah and the University of Maryland, engineers from the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia created “Falling Dust,” a free, alternative-reality game that lets multiple players interact and apply real-world skills to save humanity.
As with real engineering, “there are no fixed outcomes,” notes Langley aerospace engineer Bill Cirillo, who started working with the game’s developers almost two years ago.
Players are given science clues and new additions to the story about two to three times a week through email, social media, and game applications. They work together as a community to guide the action, solve problems, and conduct research to help save the adult characters.
DUST’s developers hope players will learn skills needed to form and test theories, and become better at collecting and analyzing data, communicating ideas, and solving problems.
Ultimately, the goal is to make kids comfortable with the idea of becoming a scientist, engineer, or gamer.