On April 4 the Smithsonian and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will launch VANISHED, an 8-week online/offline environmental disaster mystery game for middle-school children, meant to inspire engagement and problem solving through science.
Developed and curated by MIT’s Education Arcade and the Smithsonian, VANISHED is a first-of-its-kind experience where participants become investigators racing to solve puzzles and other online challenges, visit museums and collect samples from their neighborhoods to help unlock the secrets of the game. Players discover the truth about the environmental disaster by using real scientific methods and knowledge to unravel the game’s secrets. Potential participants can sign-up for VANISHED at the Web site vanished.mit.edu beginning March 21.
To navigate through the mystery game’s challenges, participants will meet Smithsonian scientists from such diverse disciplines as paleobiology, volcanology, forensic anthropology and entomology, as well as collaborate with MIT students. As the weeks progress, VANISHED players become scientific investigators taking part in a wide variety of collaborative and engaging activities both on and offline. Participants will have the opportunity to communicate directly with Smithsonian scientists via videoconferences. During these sessions, players will tap into the experts’ knowledge of key subject matters that have a major impact on cracking the mystery.
Online, VANISHED participants will take part in weekly tasks that help reveal more of the mystery. They will develop and investigate hypotheses, work with other players via online forums moderated by MIT students and play games that help illustrate science concepts in order to unlock the secret of each aspect of the mystery.