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GlassLab Launches Mars Generation One Game

Screenshot from Mars Generation One: Argubot Academy

Screenshot from Mars Generation One: Argubot Academy

The Games, Learning and Assessment Lab (GlassLab) recently released its second educational video game, which takes players on an out-of-this-world adventure to the planet Mars and teaches critical thinking and argumentation skills.

In partnership with NASA, GlassLab researchers designed Mars Generation One: Argubot Academy, a tablet game for middle school students that transports players to the “Red Planet” in the year 2054. Players take on the role of a new student at Argubot Academy, Mars’ first middle school, and must collaborate with the planet’s diverse citizens to make important community decisions. For example, players must devise strategies to build an efficient government, cultivate crops for food, and even determine which pets would be best-suited to the planet’s environment.

“Our story emphasis will be on problem solving and social decision making in a small community,” GlassLab General Manager Jessica Lindl said. “We hope to inspire the astronauts of the future by showing that skills like collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving are going to be the 21st century skills at work in space as well as on Earth.”Players must develop sound arguments to support every choice they make, equipping virtual “robot assistants” with their claims and evidence. The robots then engage in a “battle of the wits”; the one with the stronger argument wins. The game teaches students how to construct valid arguments by incorporating evidence into claims; recognizing the strengths of different types of arguments; and making decisions collaboratively.

Argubot Academy is aligned with Common Core State Standards. The game is now available on the Apple App Store, and GlassLab researchers plan to release a full suite of related teacher tools later this year.

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