Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Planet Pioneer?

Planet Pioneer Review -tinystepsmakebigstrides.comPlanet Pioneers is the new exhibition at Scitech, Perth and is on until it blasts off to NASA’s Space Centre in Houston in early 2018.  There are 17 hands on stations that will challenge you to think critically about life on earth and explore what we would need for the colonization of a new planet.

This is not just an exhibit for children, it is for anyone who is curious about the cosmos and has ever wondered what life would be like on another planet. My little explorers have not stopped talking about it since and another visit is needed as there were some activities that we just didn’t get to.

The exploration and discovery that go along side each activity allows for predictions, discussions and problem solving to occur.   Planet Pioneers offer an ideal opportunity to inspire and astound the curious minds of all. Participating in activities that pose problems really does put learning into context and the disciplines of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) are at the forefront.

Everything about Planet Pioneers is hands on.  There were many highlights, in fact there wasn’t a downside.  My little explorers were captivated from the moment they entered and first up was a spin in the g-Force capsule.  We had so much fun I didn’t even stop to take a photo!

There are several video game type simulations for kids to get creative with.  They loved landing a rocket on the new planet and controlling the descent was tricky – it took several attempts and a couple of catastrophic failures to get there! However, perseverance paid off and it was a celebratory moment! There are many skills used when playing games such as this, from the fine motor skill to execute a perfect landing using the joystick, to working as a team.  My 3 had many discussions and problem solving conversations as the activity went on.

Planet Pioneer Review -tinystepsmakebigstrides.com

Next up was flying a drone.  The activity centres on moving a drone around the new planetary habitat to locate any problems that need fixing.  Mr. O who loved this best of all was completely captivated by hunting down the problem whilst following the onscreen instructions.

Game based learning is an educational approach to motivate children to learn by using video game design and game elements in learning environments.  Gamification has been proven to be a great approach to maximise enjoyment and learning.  My little astronauts now want their very own drone for Christmas!  Let’s see what Santa can do…

Planet Pioneer Review -tinystepsmakebigstrides.com

The fun that can be had when you launch your very own spacecraft by jumping onto a pad to propel and land it in the target zone! It took more than several goes as my little astronauts wanted their rocket to land in the perfect spot.  There were many problem solving discussions and tweaks that had to be done to get it just right.  We got there in the end and it was a grand moment.  This exhibition has teamwork and problem solving at its heart.

Planet Pioneer Review -tinystepsmakebigstrides.com

The drive across the planet in a SEV (Surface Exploration Vehicle) was truly mesmerizing. Driving themselves wherever they wanted to go and having complete control of this vehicle was an amazing feeling for the explorers.

Planet Pioneer Review -tinystepsmakebigstrides.com

This is an exhibition that has something for everyone.   My eldest loved reading all the information provided on large screens near to each station and methodically went through, however my youngest 2 read a little and meandered through the space.  The information on the large screens for each station would need to be read to younger kids.  However, all the information is not needed to enjoy each activity.   I read quite a lot of the information to Mr O and Miss C, and they read some to me.  Older kids and adults who want to know more about space will undoubtedly relish all the boards overflowing with facts and material about what it would take to move to outer space.

Planet Pioneer Review -tinystepsmakebigstrides.com

Mr. J in particular loved the pick your crew activity.  Here you can find out about your own personality and put together a crew with the right combination of team members.

Another highlight was growing your own potatoes.  The screen reminded me of the WALLE movie when the plant was discovered.  My kids stared with wonder as their potatoes grew and they were rewarded with a crop at the end.  Again, this is similar to a video game as you need to input the right amount of nutrients to grow the potatoes effectively or else there will be nothing in the pantry for dinner!  My eldest did this activity first and loved imparting his newly found knowledge on the younger two.

There are several hands on activities that develop fine motor skills whilst playing.  Building a habitat was a favourite for Miss C who spent quite a while perfecting her own house.

On the night we loved making a satellite out of loose parts that you can buy from the local hardware store. This was just a trial and I so hope this continues in the tinker space!  We learned so many new facts about satellites from this activity.  Mr O asked why we didn’t have so many nuts and bolts? and why aren’t they sorted into such neat boxes?  I am happy to report that our jar of nuts and bolts has now been replaced with a sorted box very similar to the one we used on the night and it has been played with endlessly.  Thank you Scitech for the idea and organisational tips!

Finished satellites…just perfect for story telling and imaginary play.

Planet Pioneer Review -tinystepsmakebigstrides.com

We always want to continue our experience at home.  An exhibition such as this can be the starting point of so much learning and exploration.  Check out our OUTER SPACE BOOKLIST HERE 

And if you want to continue your space exploration at home or if your kids are just as mad about SPACE as my kids are – Download your OUTER SPACE  activity book here 

Mission to Colonize a new planet activity book - tinystepsmakebigstrides.com

I have always been a fan of kid made little books.  Kids can have great ownership over a little book, in comparison to a sheet of paper or an exercise book.  If your kids have ever wanted to design their own spacecraft or suit; wanted to build their own team or dream up a new planet then this is the activity for you.

Mission to Colonize a new planet activity book - tinystepsmakebigstrides.com

A post all about it will be live soon!   The books came with us for a relaxing Sunday morning brunch, they kept the kids occupied and provided plenty of conversational starters.

Have fun x

Just so you know…

We were recently invited to the exhibition along with other members of the community. We did not pay entry to see the exhibition however, we visit Scitech along with all the other attractions in Perth several times a year and pay entry each time. This article is my independent, unbiased view. If I didn’t like it I wouldn’t write about it or explore the concept further with my own children.  A visit to your local science museum will stimulate curiosity, increase awareness of current issues and provoke learning through play with many hands on interactive exhibits.

Finally – Further reading and listening on gamification 

Gamification article - teach thought
Teach Thought Article on 12 ways gamification is used in the classroom
Research article - Prof Paul Howard Jones
Research article – gamification

 

Radio 4 The Educators Podcast - Prof. Paul Howard Jones Episode
BBC4 podcast – The Educators – Prof. Paul Howard Jones on gamification

The Australian Science Curriculum 

 

Australian Science Curricululm
Science Curriculum scope and sequence

 

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