Category: Blog

Experience Mesopotamia, Don’t Just Teach It!

Students often ask when they will use what they are learning in school or how a topic actually relates to their own lives.  This can be particularly challenging while teaching about the daily life of Mesopotamia over 5,000 years ago.

An image of a chariot, technology invented in Mesopotamia

We usually start with the contributions of the Sumerians, Assyrians and Babylonians.  They were amazing civilizations since they developed agriculture, invented the wheel, created city-states, organized militaries and laid down the law in the form of Hammurabi’s code.  We can even refer to top 10 lists of inventions that show that these civilizations were great and that they built the foundations of our modern life.  While it is obvious that we owe a debt of gratitude to their inventiveness, we still need to approach teaching these civilizations in a way that engages the modern student.

One approach is to focus on lesser-known aspects of these civilizations like the History Channel’s list of “9 Things You May Not Know About the Ancient Sumerians.”  You can impress students by highlighting that women were rulers, their cities were the size of modern cities and that they loved beer. However, in the end it may still feel like another list of irrelevant facts.

Another approach is to change how the information is taught.  Crash Course has created a great library of quick and informative YouTube videos. These can be used as a great preview at the start of a unit.  Their Mesopotamia video astutely proclaims that “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world monocular.”  You may grab student’s attention with pithy animation videos, but you may want to utilize interactive digital experiences too.

A stone image of Hammurabi, a king in MesopotamiaAlthough the selection of online interactives about Mesopotamia is not very robust, there is a variety in the types of experiences to be had.   There are basic interactives that essentially bring to life maps from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s textbooks.   There are also interactives that put students in the decision maker’s position like Philip Martin’s interactive Hammurabi’s code. In this interactive, students have to choose the appropriate punishment based on the codes.    The British Museum has an extensive interactive Mesopotamia site in which students can explore the geography, religion and technology of Babylonia, Assyria and Sumer.  Finally, students can also try their hand at playing the ancient game of Ur.

As you can see, there are many resources to engage your students online. However, all of these are missing a core component which is key to engaging students deeply.  Our understanding of history is always evolving based on new archaeological findings and the development of new scientific tools.  Why not engage your students in the process of discovering and debating what actually happened?

An image from Dig-iT Games' Excavate! Mesopotamia

History is discovery.  Here at Dig-iT! Games, we are committed to the discovery of history through archaeology.  We have just released Excavate! Mesopotamiaan interactive video game which provides a different way to look at Mesopotamian civilizations. The game challenges students to excavate artifacts, analyze them and then synthesize what they have learned. Students must closely examine artifacts and discover the purpose and significance of each one. This leads to a deeper understanding of the daily life in ancient Babylonia, Assyria and Sumer.

History is contested.  For example, new technologies have afforded insight into the possible role that shepherds played in trade in Mesopotamia. Previously, historians believed that nomadic shepherds were instrumental in facilitating international trade. They would travel widely in search of greener pastures for their sheep and goats.  But, new technologies have afforded new findings that are sparking controversy.  It’s possible shepherds actually stayed closer to cities to supply milk and fur and were out of the trade networks.  This article from Science Magazine highlights the debate. This is a great way to share with students the process of discovering history and the necessity of being critical of sources and processes used to reach conclusions.  Encourage critical thinking skills over the belief that history is a closed case!

We hope you find these resources helpful in engaging your students in the study, exploration and intellectual discussion concerning Mesopotamia.


World History | Teaching Ancient Egypt in 2018

Teaching about ancient Egypt has never been easier – a quick Google search for Ancient Egypt lesson plans yields millions of results. A teacher can also look at TeachersPayTeachers and find over 3,200 resources to buy and use. It’s easy to understand why – ancient Egypt is a fascinating topic that is taught in every World History curriculum. What person (both student and adult) doesn’t like to learn about mummification and pulling brains through the nose? Therefore, while ANOTHER list of Egypt resources might not be necessary, let’s talk about how to use the amazing technology we have to bring this ancient civilization to life.

One of the leaders in educational VR lesson plans is Nearpod. They have their own VR headsets included with a purchase of class sets of their produce. The virtual field trips they offer include the Washington Monument, Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal and the Great Pyramids of Giza. In the Egyptian lesson, students explore the Tomb of Ramesses VI and learn about hieroglyphics.

Another great option is the British Museum as they hold the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts outside of Egypt. The museum has done a great job of putting their entire collection online where you can search the artifacts, and they recently made their entire Egyptian Exhibit a 360 experience! Students are able to walk through the exhibit and explore the artifacts. Check out vr.britishmuseum.org for more information.

Describing Egypt is a wonderful website that is being developed to tell the story of Egypt’s long and interesting past. Right now, they have seven different tours focusing on the tombs of the 30 Dynasties era – making it possible to walk through the tombs and temples of some of the most important sites in ancient Egypt.

Discovering EgyptInteractive Lessons on Ancient Egypt is a website by Mark Millmore who is an artist with an intense interest in Egyptology. He has developed incredible 3D renderings of the temples of Egypt. They are also available as an iPad app. He even has an Egyptian hieroglyphic typewriter that students will love to play around with.

If you are looking for an interactive experience where your student becomes the archaeologist, look no further than our Excavate! Egypt. Students have the option to travel to four important locations along the Nile.

  • In Alexandria players will learn about the importance of education and trade in the Great Library.
  • In Karnak players explore the great Temple of Karnak and understand the power of the Pharaoh.
  • In Giza players gain an understanding of the people who built the Pyramids by exploring the worker’s village.
  • In Valley of the Kings players discover tools and items used in mummification and the tombs of the Pharaohs.

In each site, players use virtual archaeology tools to dig for artifacts. Once uncovered, players move to the analysis tent where they answer multiple choice questions that force them to look closely at the artifact. Finally, players are asked to gather their new information together in a field report to summarize what they’ve found.

In addition to the video game, we have created the Excavate! Card Game. Players must use their knowledge of the people, artifacts, and locations of Egypt to make connections. It’s a fun way to let students use their creativity and show what they really know. Check it out here!

We hope this list provided some fresh inspiration for your unit on Ancient Egypt. We’d love to hear about any other cool tools your use!

 

 


2017 | A Year of Digital Learning

The 2017 Year in Review – Education Highlights

At this time of year, we reflect on the major events that have influenced our New Earth Planetlives and industry. Our news outlets will share their highlights of 2017 from weather to politics but there were also lesser known discoveries and events that should be remembered. NASA reported that there was a new planet that could support life and then there was the exciting finding of a new chamber inside the pyramids of Giza for example. There were also significant developments in the intersecting worlds of technology and education.

E-Learning Recap 2017

  • The hottest development was the expansion of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) apps for the education marketplace. Students were transported to other worlds or dropped into the human body to explore its complex systems. There was also an increase in capacity for students to create in the AR and VR spaces with sites like Co.Spaces. Check out these 20 VR apps that had a big impact in 2017.

Virtual Reality in Education Games

  • Chromebook is now King and Queen! Cheap hardware with a suite of online, collaborative digital tools attracted schools to adopt Google as the #1 supplier of educational technology in 2017. This was not without critics who point to the fact that students are being shepherded into becoming lifelong Google customers as they transfer their school accounts to private ones upon graduation. Read More: “How Google Took Over the Classroom.”

Educational Games and chromebooks

  • Siri, Alexa and “Ok Google” have become common ways of interacting with technology and much of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) that makes these on-command applications work also has the potential to improve teaching and learning. Follow this link to read about 5 examples of how AI is being used in grading and tutoring applications to free up valuable time for teachers and improve the speed of services for students. We are incorporating AI into our new educational applications platform.

blockchain education technology

  • Blockchain (n0t to be confused with Bitcoins) made waves in 2017 with its use in the financial sector but it has great potential with credentialing and securing student records in academia. If you are not familiar with blockchain software, check out this great blog and video that IBM has created to explain it. While blockchain has not made its way into the K-12 classroom (yet), universities and online learning platforms are piloting its use and it has the potential to help bring digital badging and online diplomas to a universally recognized position in academia. Familiarize yourself with it now because it may have an impact on education very soon!

 

  • Dig-It Games made waves by building a revolutionary platform for data reporting from digital learning games. The platform is called Game-Based Learning Experience API or GBLxAPI for short. This National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project aims to build a reporting language for all video games to use to report student data as well as create a protocol for collecting and reading the data. It aims to streamline all data from various online-learning games and platforms so that schools and teachers can analyze data in a single dashboard owned by the school district (not the edtech companies). We made great progress this year and partnered with other game companies to implement it in 2018. Stay tuned!

Game-Based Learning

In 2017, many students had a lot of energy around getting a Nintendo switch and their parents expended a lot of energy expressing disappointment that Nintendo stopped selling the classic NES system. There was also major gaming news in the classroom. Kahoot released a great year-end review of the trends that they witnessed with their customers such as a surge of search requests for Math content, an increase in adoption of Google Chromebooks and a rise in the use of BYOD (bring your own devices) in many classes. Increases in BYOD is exciting news because it opens new venues of interactivity such as incorporating social media and virtual reality into the classroom. But an important aspect of bringing more hardware into the classroom is finding high quality games to play!

World History Game Excavate EgyptWe are proud to announce that Dig-iT! Games released 5 games in 2017 which will prove to be a valuable experience and resource for all World History classes. The Excavate! video game series extends our innovation approach to incorporating the STEM field of Archaeology into Social Studies and History courses by challenging students to dig up ancient artifacts and then analyze them for key concepts about ancient civilizations. We released Excavate! Mesopotamia, Excavate! Egypt, Excavate! Greece, Excavate! Rome, and Excavate! Mesoamerica. Each game is accompanied by high quality supporting curricular materials help facilitate each game’s use in the classroom. We also released ExoTrex 2 challenging students to search for a new planet like the one NASA found this year.

Exotrex 2 Science Education Game

Game-based learning and Gamification are both listed as trends in education for 2017 and beyond.  We are proud to be a part of this exciting development by offering a high quality and engaging game series. Contact us today to review any of our newest games!

Have a great 2018!


‘Tis the Season – For Movies!

Make use of your free time and watch movies!

A scene of the movies

from: hashi photo

The holidays are a great time to get cozy and watch some movies! This year it looks to be a good year for some exciting new films like:  Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Jumanji, The Greatest Showman, and Ferdinand, just to name a few!  However, one of the most successful movies this holiday season has been Disney/Pixar’s Coco. The beautiful story of young Miguel who has dreams of being a musician despite his family’s mysterious ban on music! He finds himself able to cross into the “Land of the Dead” during Día de los Muertos to meet his musical idol.

Trademarking Culture

One of the reasons the movie is so successful and plays to both Hispanic and non-Hispanic audiences so well is because of a flub by Disney. The company tried to copyright the phrase “Día de los Muertos” in 2013 which resulted in such intense backlash they decided to rescind the permit a week later. One of the most outspoken critics of the copyright was Lalo Alcaraz, a Mexican-American political cartoonist, who Disney then hired (along with two others) to be a cultural consultant. This assured that the film was portrayed in the most appropriate and authentic manner.

As a former Spanish teacher, I am thrilled to see movies like this and Reel FX’s Book of Life Movies like Coco feature Dia de los Muerta altars like thisbring culturally sensitive and authentic portrayals to the mainstream. I have taught in predominantly suburban districts that did not have diverse populations. Every year I had to explain to teenagers that Día de los Muertos was not “Mexico’s Halloween” but a vibrant celebration of life and death. Sure, there are plenty of documentaries, crafts, and websites to research how Día de los Muertos is celebrated, but none of it got to the emotions and beliefs of the holiday like Coco. It’s a wonderful thing to know that children and adults can see this movie and experience the heritage, bright colors, music, language, and emotion of Día de los Muertos.

Preserving Culture

An artifact not from the movies- instead from Excavate! Mesoamerica

We obviously love any kind of entertainment that can combine learning and fun. Games and experiential learning have the power to make education effortless. We had this in mind when we designed our Excavate! Series. In Excavate! Mesoamerica you can have this experience. Players have the opportunity to travel to three different locations: Chichen Itza – the Mayan pyramid complex on the Yucatan Peninsula, Tenochtitlan – the Aztec capital in central Mexico, and Cusco – The capital of the Incan Empire. The game lets students analyze artifacts from these cultures to piece together an understanding of the people and how they lived. The beautiful illustrations in the journal will also provide many opportunities for discussion. We hope this game can also spark an interest into learning about these histories and people.

 

 


Were the Greeks the First Gamers?

Interactive Narrative as Game

The Iliad and the Odyssey are part of the Western Literature canon but primarily written down in book form. This belies their original format which was recited, edited, embellished and improvised epic poems performed in front of a rapt audience. They were a seamless combination of entertainment and education much like today’s educational video game! Add the fact that a driving narrative delivered the lessons and knowledge and now you can really see how ancient epics have similarities to learning games.

Exploding the Castle This comparison is brilliantly made by Roger Travis of University of Connecticut in his article (“What Homeric Epic Can Teach Us About Educational Affordances of Interactive Narrative” pgs. 19-37) published recently in Exploding the Castle: Rethinking How Video Games and Game Mechanics Can Shape the Future of Education. Travis’ article not only explores the interactive nature of sharing epic poems but also highlights how their use in Greek theater expands the nature of their interactive power. The messages, lessons and epic journeys get reframed and improvised to keep audiences engaged through surprising twists and turns and reframing of comfortable tropes much like how a video game progresses through various levels.

My favorite assertion is that Socrates was indeed a gamer!

Socrates was a gamer. My research suggests that he and his fellow Athenians played the stories of Achilles and Odysseus every time they heard them because we always play adventure stories, whether we hear them or read them or watch them and whether we have explicit, if fake, control over some portion of the story or not. Remember that every choice you can make in a digital game is programmed into that game’s software, and remember that every choice you can make even in a tabletop role-playing game must fall within the rules. If it works better for you, though simply imagine Socrates and is friends playing Achilles or playing Odysseys at the end of his life those games became even more interactive as Socrates chose to become a new Achilles. (Travis Page 22)

We read and perform these epic poems for their powerful stories of the human condition, insight into historical events and because they have powerful narrative structures. We are constrained in how far off piste we can go with content as we rework them but they are inherently engaging and we read them over and over again. Much like a good game compels the player to replay, rework and master a technique or level. When we play today’s video games, we may be taking part of a tradition that started a lot earlier than we had imagined!

Lasting Influence…Even in Game Play

The Greeks have had a significant influence in our culture and it is evident in our architecture, live theater, form of government and now even our video games. Why not learn more about these cultural influencers by playing a video game about them?

Socrates the Gamer

Dig-iT! Games has recently released our Ancient Greece title in the Excavate! video game series. Students excavate real artifacts that are primary sources that students analyze in order to draw conclusions about the daily life of ancient Greece. Excavate! Greece challenges students to compare and contrast the lifestyles of Athens and Sparta, dig deep into Greek religious practices while exploring Apollo’s Temple at Delphi and explore the life of world class athletes while excavating Olympus. It is an engaging and fun way to learn about and build on the ancient tradition that Socrates also enjoyed: the interactive narrative!

Try Excavate! Greece today and give it to your loved one who has to find an engaging way to get his or her students interested in ancient Greece after the holidays!


Guide to Holiday Gifts for Teachers

Gifts for the holidaysAsk a teacher what gifts they want for Christmas and they might smile and say any of the following:

  • A snow day
  • Longer prep period
  • To use the restroom whenever they want
  • To reach that one student that needs help

Obviously, none of these options can be bought or wrapped, so let’s discuss some viable options to show your appreciation for someone who does so much for your child.

Gift Options

  1. Water bottles are useful gifts for teachersGift Cards – I know a lot of people don’t like to give gift cards because it seems a little impersonal. However, gift cards to coffee shops, Target, or Amazon can be used to buy supplies for the classroom (or for themselves).
  2. Reusable water bottles or travel coffee mugs – Nice water bottles and travel mugs can get pricey very quickly. Find ones that are insulated and don’t leak so they can throw it in their bag without fear of soaking students’ papers!
  3. A Donation – Many teachers are turning to crowd-sourcing websites to fund projects and supplies. Check out donorschoose.org, adoptaclassroom.org, or classwish.org.
  4. A personal gift – It’s great to get to know the teacher and their interests. I once received a knot blanket from a student that had my university’s logo on it. It’s one of my favorite gifts to this day.

The holidays can be tough.

Parents have enough to stress about over the holidays and this shouldn’t add to it! Teachers sincerely appreciate any gesture no matter how big or small. If your budget or time doesn’t allow for a gift, IT’S OK! A nicely worded note or email is enough. Not to mention, those notes of thanks are great year-round!

There can also be a big difference between elementary teachers and high school teachers. It’s much easier when your child only has one teacher versus 7 or 8. Don’t feel pressured to buy a gift for EVERY teacher, but do try to be discreet about giving the gifts out.

The perfect gift for the history teacher!

The Excavate! Card Game could be your gifts for teachersHave a history teacher to buy for? Or have a child that loves history? Check out our Excavate! Card Game. It’s a great way for students to make connections with ancient artifacts. Buy a few decks to make sure the entire class can enjoy! Check them out here!


Computer Science Education Week

Computer Science Education Week

Computer Science Education Week was December 4-10 this year. This annual celebration focuses on the importance and promotion of computer science classes in US schools. According to their website, csedweek.org, there are over 400,000 computing jobs available in the country right now and only 42,969 computer science students graduated into the workforce.

Working at a video game studio can definitely make one see the importance of this subject and the wide-ranging effects it has on daily life. Our office ranges in background from computer science majors to philosophy and education majors. Even with this range, computer science makes an impact on all of us.

Here’s what some of our team members had to say:

“Computer science helps me think logically, in life as well as at work. Because a computer only does exactly what it’s told, computer programmers must be very precise in their language, syntax, and style. This analytical mindset is beneficial for a number of real-world skills, including verbal and written communications, long-term planning, and problem-solving. Computer science is powerful because it’s given me the tools to succeed in many aspects of life.” – Reuben, Junior Developer

“Computer science allows me to create anything in the world I want … artistically… imagine that.” – Mikel, Senior 3D Artist

“In the dark pre-Internet days, I fell in love with programming in early high school after finding a book on how to program real time computer graphics on my family’s primitive computer, and went on to earn a BS in Computer Science in college.  Computer Science is a very detail oriented discipline where you create computer programs to instruct the computer on how to improve a complex system or how to efficiently solve a complex problem.  For me, Computer Science is fun because every day I get to create complex systems, solve abstract problems, and design engaging experiences for players in games.  Also, I really enjoy being a part of a team with other talented programmers, designers, artists, and educators that all strive to make really engaging games for our players.” – Jesse, Senior Developer

“Both of my parents were computer science majors and imparted the interest in technology and education on me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. ” – Elisa, Education Team

Promotion of Computer Science

In an effort to promote computer science, Dig-iT! Games often hosts field trips from student groups who want to see what we do every day. These experiences can really open the eyes of students who think that a career in computer science is boring or out of reach. If you are a teacher and are interested in a field trip (either in-person or virtual) please don’t hesitate to reach out. Check out our about page for more information about what we do and our mission-based philosophy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Excavate Series Expands Greece, Rome and Playing Cards

Today, Dig-iT! Games formally announces the expansion and updated improvements to the Excavate social studies games series with six civilizations on world history. Existing civilizations Egypt, Mesopotamia and MesoAmerica have been updated with additional content and C3-aligned gameplay for an enriched overall learning experience. New civilizations include Rome, Greece and Byzantine (coming soon). Available on multiple platforms for desktops, tablets and phones, these games are designed by former middle school teacher and DIG-IT! Games CEO, Suzi Wilczynski, to take kids on archaeological adventures through time and around the world, that are both entertaining and educational.

New Playing Cards

The series has also been expanded to include Excavate! playing cards for classroom and family fun. Each card deck includes People, Places and Artifacts cards that complement the video game or can be played separately. This is a perfect way to get the conversation going without screen time. An excellent gift option for your child, grandchild or a favorite teacher to introduce the ancient cultures. Game decks are available for the Rome and Egypt civilizations. Standard game play is for 3 to 5 players ages 9 and above.

Six World History Civilizations

“We are pleased to be adding three new world history civilizations to this popular series and updating the content to align to C3 standards to make a more effective teaching tool” says Wilczynski. “Excavate™ provides a high-quality resource for educators across their full World History Curriculum and the new card decks add an additional option for cultural game play, creating a complete multi-media game experience for the middle-school classroom.

Read the complete press release here


Strong Showing at NCSS!

Dig-iT! Games had a great showing at the recent National Council of Social Studies (NCSS) conference in San Francisco (November 17th-19th).  Our staff presented on topics that are not only recent studio initiatives but also integral in furthering the field of game-based learning.

Stuart Claggett presented the research we conducted with the National Science Foundation on creating a universal data reporting standard for games and digital learning experiences.  He presented on the vision of a universal adoption of data protocols that would not only make it easy for games to report learning events to teachers but also the potential of a school or district to collect and amass all learning data in one location.  This will increase the ability to compare and contrast the value of digital learning tools while protecting student data.  Stuart had great follow-up conversations with game companies and school districts interested in student data privacy afterward.

Elisa Bartolomeo-Damon presented about the power of object-based learning with ancient artifacts and with Dig-iT! Games’ video games.  She demonstrated the “Describe-Interpret-Evaluate” process we not only incorporate into our games but also our supplemental curriculum materials.  This was not only a great reminder to social studies teachers about how artifacts are primary sources but it also was an engaging introduction to our newly released Excavate Card Game. She inspired many teachers to head right to our booth afterwards to pick up their free deck of cards to practice object-based learning in a game format on their own.

Chris Magnuson presented on a new concept from our studio of building a matrix of games to play in order to compare and contrast ancient world civilizations.  The concept entails building a core game for aspects of each civilization like architecture, religion or technology and then customize each game to highlight the unique characteristics of each civilization studied.  We had a small turn out (thanks to a Sunday morning slot) but the conversations afterwards about game-based learning were rich and insightful.

We also had a great time hosting our booth in the exhibit hall in which we presented our newest Excavate! series of games.  Teachers had fun playing Excavate! EgyptExcavate! Greece, Excavate! Rome or Excavate! Mesopotamia on laptops or iPads.  They also reviewed the accompanying curricular materials and were introduced to the Excavate! Card Game as a great group-based review activity.  The booth was busy with a lot of traffic and here are a few things that were overheard while interacting with the crowd:

Teachers participated in our Twitter Contest by taking photos with artifacts and making connections to them. “Teachers today and teachers in Rome liked their wine!”

“You have World History content! Sweet!” 

NCSS had many booths that connected to American History and civics but we were surprised to learn that we were one of the only booths solely devoted to Ancient World History.  Many teachers commented on how grateful they were to find rich game-based learning resources for this era of human history.

“This will make my unit on Mesopotamia so fun!”

As teachers played our Excavate! video games they repeatedly mentioned how our games would make the teaching of ancient world history fun and engaging.

“Wait there is more?!” 

Teachers were impressed with the Excavate! video games but as we walked through our supporting curriculum materials with them their eyes widened as they saw concrete ways to incorporate our lessons into their classes.  They saw that we thoughtfully created lessons that could be used verbatim to prepare students to play and also record their learning afterwards.  But as we showed them our Excavate! Card Game as an extension of the video game and the curricular materials they remarked about how there were so many integrated materials to support student learning.  We felt like infomercial sales representatives adding so much value with additional product…but wait there is more!

“That really helps with student-to-student discourse.”

We are proud of our Excavate! video game series as it challenges students to explore ancient world civilizations at their own pace, but we wanted to make sure that we build opportunities for students to review and demonstrate learning in a cooperative group setting as well.  We created the Excavate! Card Game to facilitate rich review discussions among students which was not lost on our booth visitors as one of them remarked how it helped with student-to-student discourse.

“My colleague said I had to come by here!”   

One of the things we heard often, and are most proud of, is that teachers either were brought to our booth by others or were sent to see us.  Word of mouth was evident and we welcomed it at NCSS and we also welcome more of it!  If you came to our booth or would like to share your experiences with Excavate! drop us a line.  We are excited to hear more about how you are using it in your classes and schools. Email Chris and Elisa of the education team info@dig-itgames.com


World Space Week 2017

World Space Week iconThis week marks World Space Week which runs from October 4th to October 10th. The theme of this week is “Exploring New Worlds in Space” which, according to their website, “…serves to inspire the World. It puts as a focal point astrobiology missions like New Horizons (NASA’s first mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt)” They also mention projects like Space X and Lockheed Martin’s Orion Multi-Purposed Crew Vehicle which all look to explore human interaction and inhabitation of space.  

This year we saw the dramatic Grand Finale of the Cassini space craft after a 13-year run orbiting Saturn, its moons, and rings. The craft was launched on October 15, 1997 and spent 7 years on a journey that took it near Venus, Earth, through the Asteroid Belt, around Jupiter, and then finally reaching orbit around Saturn. That was just the trip there!  

ExoTrex 2 is perfect for World Space WeekCassini also dropped off the Huygens Probe onto the surface of one of Saturn’s moons, Titan. This was the first time a craft had landed on the surface of an outer solar system world. The probe showed scientists a landscape that looked very similar to Earth’s with rivers, volcanoes, shores, and seas. However, the liquid is not water, but methane and ethane! 

Other discoveries included an ocean under the frozen surface of Enceladus, seven new moons, new images of massive storms at the poles of Saturn. After years of orbiting Saturn, power was beginning to run low so the team made the decision to send it into a death plunge. Scientists were worried if the power ran out that the craft could smash into one of the moons and cause damage so they decided to plunge it into Saturn’s atmosphere where it would burn up and lessen any potential damage.  

Our space exploration game, ExoTrex 2, uses some of the information we learned from the Cassini mission. In ExoTrex 2, players explore Venus, Mercury, and the moon Titan. They perform experiments, one of which is landing a rover on the surface of Titan! They must balance thrusters against the gravitational pull to accurately land it and then explore the cryovolcanoes and landscape of Titan to figure out if it is suitable for life. 

World Space Week was recognized by the UN General Assembly in 1999 and celebrates the effect of science and technology on the world each year. We support these initiatives and hope that our ExoTrex series can help to spark interest in these fields for the future generations.