At Emergenetics® International, we’ve been ideating how to utilize digital solutions to empower even more people with thinking and behavioral insights. As we embrace new modalities for virtual learning, we are eager to announce the development of our newest offering, Moon Base Rescue™, which launches on January 17!
Moon Base Rescue is a social awareness lesson kit, for students ages 12 – 15, which uses an interactive Minecraft video game to help kids expand their self-awareness, empathy, communication and collaboration skills. We are thrilled to deliver our newest product, alongside Celebrate You(th): A Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Curriculum, to support adolescents in building vital life and learning skills.
To learn more about our latest program, our Marketing Director, Jenn Denfield, sat down for a conversation with our Chief Executive Officer, Marie Unger.
Jenn Denfield (JD): How did the idea for Moon Base Rescue come about?
Marie Unger (MU): It first came about through a conversation with a friend who works at Microsoft, after we conducted a Meeting of the Minds for her team. She felt that there was an opportunity to better support educators in teaching SEL. From her perspective, Emergenetics could be the perfect fit because it empowers any person to understand themselves and others by revealing their preferences for different seven Thinking and Behavioral Attributes.
After brainstorming lots and lots of ideas, we decided that kids could be introduced to the Emergenetics Attributes by immersing them in new environments in space, where the inhabitants would think and behave differently from one another to represent Emergenetics. Players would then get to practice problem-solving, communicating and collaborating with characters who were both similar and different from them, which would fuel their own self- and social awareness.
To bring our vision to life, we collaborated with team members from Emergenetics, Microsoft Education, the development team at i2e and Blue Origin’s non-profit, Club for the Future.
JD: Why did the Emergenetics team want to create a product like Moon Base Rescue?
MU: The objective was to help kids strengthen their own social awareness to enhance social emotional learning. By introducing youth to the seven Attributes of Emergenetics, they discover a framework that can be easily understood and applied across a number of situations.
And, knowing the immense load that educators and youth group leaders carry every day, we wanted to deliver a product that would require less time from them and more time for youth to be directly immersed in active learning. So, we created a curriculum complete with the video game to engage today’s learners.
JD: What does Moon Base Rescue do for kids?
MU: At their core, the lessons teach youth to communicate and work with people who are different from them. This understanding allows them to be more successful in a variety of settings, whether that’s advocating for their learning needs in the classroom, navigating a disagreement with a friend or even building collaborative problem-solving skills that they will need as adults. At the end of the day, our focus is to help them boost their social and emotional skills.
JD: What age groups are the lesson kit designed for?
MU: Anyone who likes Minecraft could have fun with this game!
The game is specifically built for 12 – 15-year-olds, which is guided by the complexity of the challenges that learners must solve in the game. For example, there are logic puzzles and certain mathematic equations. That said, I’ve shown the game to some people who feel their 10-year-old would love it, and others well over the age of 15 who love it themselves.
JD: What does the lesson kit in Moon Base Rescue include?
MU: The lesson kit is a comprehensive educator resource that includes curriculum to support the lessons presented in the digital environment. The teacher guide helps educators – and any adults who may be working with kids – to understand what players are experiencing in the game and provides lessons that an instructor can pull from to encourage students to apply the information they’re learning in real life. Unlike other game offerings, the strategies included in the curriculum provide an instructional lens, that goes beyond telling educators what kids are seeing, and how to make the most of the in-game learning opportunities. A student resource is also included to bolster the learning experience as students navigate four different planets.
JD: What made Minecraft Education such an appealing platform for this offering?
MU: We love that Minecraft Education is available worldwide. It also has built-in support through an Immersive Reader feature, which makes the resources significantly more accessible. Immersive Reader accommodates a variety of learners and more than 40 languages, and it has the capacity to read the game and lesson kit aloud.
What tied it all together was the mission of the creators of Minecraft. Their priority is to build a better world through the power of play, and I feel that is a great complement to the vision of our organization.
JD: What do you feel is different about this lesson kit compared to similar offerings in the market?
MU: I believe that the program’s distinctiveness lies in its purpose of teaching social awareness. There are not many tools like this.
We also use non-playable characters (NPCs) in the video game that approach learners in a very specific way of thinking and behaving, just like people do every day in real life. That application allows youth to understand what makes them feel “scratchy” or outside of their comfort zone as well as what comes easily to them. And it teaches younger generations the skills to overcome that unease – whether it’s in completing a task or communicating in a way that speaks to another preference.
One other unique element comes at the end of the game. In the final lesson, students get to explore a model of Orbital Reef, a real space station undergoing development. We are thankful to Club for Future for their partnership on this!
JD: What features excite you most about Moon Base Rescue?
MU: I would say the real-world application of the learning. Using the support materials, educators, counselors and youth leaders can help kids take their knowledge into their real lives and use it to improve the way they interact with anyone.
I also love that the final lesson is tied to an actual space station that’s in the making, and the fact that each planet feels so unique. The colors and missions in the game are authentic to each of the Emergenetics Attributes, so it is interesting to see the planets people gravitate to.
Even in our testing, it was so fun to see how our staff’s preferences came alive as they discovered each world. They felt so connected to the planets that reflected their preferences and were truly scratchy in the worlds that did not speak to their preferred Attributes. That’s a testament to the accuracy of Emergenetics!
JD: How does this offering advance the vision for Emergenetics?
MU: It aligns completely with our mission. This game inspires youth to interact with empathy and understanding by helping them learn what their brilliances are and appreciate the gifts of others at an early age. We are also seeing an increasing need for social and emotional skills for youth given the rapid changes in our society. We envision that Moon Base Rescue will serve as that entry point to help kids build these essential capabilities using Emergenetics theory. Then, when they couple those insights with their discoveries from the Emergenetics Youth Report, their social awareness skills will truly blast off.
JD: If readers could remember only one thing about Moon Base Rescue, what would you hope that is?
MU: You know how hard it is for me to land on one thing! What’s coming to my mind is we – as adults in kids’ lives – need to embrace the fact that younger generations are learning differently than the ways in which we were taught. What I want people to remember is that Moon Base Rescue can teach youth about who they are through a vehicle that will maximize their engagement and retention.
JD: Is there anything else you want to add?
MU: I want to express my gratitude for all the people who were willing to experiment with this. It’s totally different than anything Emergenetics has ever done. Our goal is to reach as many kids as we can and help them learn these important, yet sometimes overlooked, life skills, and I’m appreciative to everyone who helped develop this offering.
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