Earth Trek

by Connie Busse

Connie is an evaluation analyst with the San Diego City Schools. She loves fast cars and chocolate.

Instructional Objective The learners will be able to identify on a game board containing a map of the world, all of the major oceans, rivers, mountains, deserts, and continents of the earth. Identification will consist of checking off the name of the geographic feature on a scoring card once the learner has "explored" that feature on the game board. Exploring the feature means the learner has crossed and or landed on the geographic feature during his or her turn of play.

Learners/Context Typical learners would be upper elementary grade students (grades 4-6). The game could be used for social studies lessons, as a learning center choice or during "free" period. The learners would have some previous instruction in geography including a general background about geographic features. The game is intended for 2-6 players with 3 or 4 being the optimal number. The resources that learners collect are located in the correct geographic locations but their main intent is to add interest.

The advanced version is intended for middle level or high school students (grades 6-10). It teaches skills of planning and cooperation along with geography.

Rules The game takes place 200 years in the future. All of the people have disappeared from the earth leaving behind the cities, their technology, their libraries, their resources and their transportation. You and all of those who play the game are aliens from other solar systems who have studied Earth. Now that the humans are gone, you have come to explore the physical planet so that future landing parties can mine the rich resources.

Your task is to travel the entire planet collecting samples of as many resources as possible and keeping a record of your travels for future use. This would be an easy and enjoyable task, however, aliens from other planets have also landed somewhere on Earth. They also want to mine the resources. Whoever explores the planet, gathers the resource samples and returns to the home planet first will be able to claim the earth and its resources for his or her home planet.

To Begin Each player selects a colored spaceship and then rolls the die to determine where his or her spaceship will land. Landing points are marked with a star and are numbered 1 - 6 on the board. Place your spaceship on the star that matches the number you rolled on the die. Your spaceship stays in the star space for the whole game. The player who rolled the highest number plays first and play moves around the board clockwise, to the left.

Movement After each person has rolled the die to determine their landing point, the person with the highest number begins play. She or he rolls the die again and uses the flat disk to move the number of squares the die shows. Movement may be forward, backward or to the side but not diagonal. Once you have passed through a square you may not re-enter that square in the same turn. Only one player can be in a square at a time.

Your landing space, the star which contains your spaceship, is "cloaked" so that no one else may see your ship. This means that players may not enter star spaces that contain spaceships of other players. If no spaceship is in the star space, you may move through the space or stop on it just like any other square.

Winning The winner is the first person to explore the whole planet and return to his or her spaceship for blastoff. If no one explores the whole planet, the winner is the person who has traveled the furthest, explored the most geographic features and collected the most resources. If two or more people have traveled the same distance, the person with the most geographic features and resources wins. If two people have explored the same number of geographic features, the person who traveled the furthest wins. If two people have the same amount of resources, the person who traveled the furthest wins.

Playing There are five parts to each turn:

1. The player rolls the die and moves the spaces.

2. The player checks off the names of all geographic features "explored" during the turn. A feature is explored if your piece passes through a square containing any part of that feature. More than one person may explore every feature. Each player can refer to an accompanying map for the names of the geographic features.

3. The player collects any sample resources that are found in square where the turn ends. You do not collect the resources if you just pass through the square. More than one person can collect resources from the same square.

4. The player draws an event card at the end of each turn. He or she reads the event aloud and all players effected by the event do what the card tells them to do. The events on the cards apply to all players not just the person drawing the card.

5. The player adds up the number of miles traveled.

Scoring At the end of each turn, write the number of miles you traveled on your score card. Each square is equal to 1000 miles. Add up your total number of miles after each turn.

Count the number of geographic features you explored and be sure each one is checked off on the score sheet. If you incorrectly name a geographic feature, deduct 500 points from your total miles traveled.

Resources you discover each have a certain value. At the end of each turn, mark the resources you have collected and add up the total points for resources. The score card tells you how much each kind of resource is worth.

Other Explorer Contact No two spaceships may start at the same landing star. If two people roll the same number, the first person with the number can choose to stay with that space or give it up to the second person and roll for a new landing star. A player may only choose to roll for a new landing star one time in a game. If a second player rolls the same number a second time, that player must roll for a new landing star.

No two players may occupy a square at the same time. The first person on a square occupies the square and other players must choose a different square for landing. You may pass over a square occupied by another player but you may not stop there. Players "cloak" themselves when other aliens are near so they do not see each other.

Alternate Forms There are at least two other ways to play the game.

Regular In one form of the game, place the clear plastic overlay showing country boundaries on the board. Instead of identifying geographic features, players identify the countries of the world. The number of countries explored replaces the number of geographic features explored. Players refer to an accompanying map for names of countries. All other rules remain the same.

Advanced In the advanced game, players keep track of the account of food and water used and subtract that amount from the beginning balance. In this version, explorers have to find maps to navigate the world. They also need to travel in the appropriate form of Earth transportation to match the terrain. For example, you need a ship to cross the oceans, a boat to travel rivers, and motorized vehicles for land travel. Air travel is not allowed.

In the advanced version, players can barter with other explorers for resources, food, transportation and maps. Players are not cloaked during play and may interact with other explorers. Violent conflict (physical fighting or war) may not occur.

The rules of the regular version all apply except for cloaking and the ability to barter. Winning still means being the first to explore the planet, collect resources and return to your spaceship.