Magellan 2000
The Latitude & Longitude Challenge Game


Maria Kazinou

William Schutt


| Instructional Objective | Learners & Context | Object of Game | Game Materials |

| Time Required | Rules | Design Process | References |

Instructional Objective

Children are presented with the terms and concepts of latitude and longitude after the fourth grade, and they learn how to use a map to find the latitude and the longitude of a geographical sites. According to the California Geographical and Economic Literacy Standards, students learn to identify and locate key places and regions of the world, and use "physical and mental maps, globes, and other geographical tools to derive information about the relationships among people, places, and environments over time"(

This game reinforces this knowledge domain and can be used in class or at home. When playing this game, the learners assume the role of navigator aboard a jet aircraft that is departing for a trans-continent journey around the world. Players (navigators) will be asked to the use latitude and the longitude on the game board (map) to locate countries and world capitals that are related to their journey destinations. In addition, players will be asked to relate the destination world capitals and countries to their continents and their physical placement on earth. The concepts of the equator, tropics, arctic circle, and Prime meridian will be reinforced throughout play. This game supports the National Framework Standards for geography (The World in Spatial Terms) that include the following standards for students (K-12):

  • Understand how to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective.
  • Understand how to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context.
  • Understand how to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface (

Learners & Context of Use
The game is designed for 4th grade students and above. To play this game, a student should be able to read a map and know how to locate locations by using latitude and longitude. In addition, compass directions and map orientation skills are also needed to be competitive.

This game can be used at home or school. It is designed so that 2-4 players can play comfortably. For classroom applications, players can be divided into teams of students (2-3 students per team). If the game is used in a school, no special accommodations are needed. The game can be played in any standard classroom.

Object of the Game
Players must complete their journey by landing on each of the capitals that are determined by their Journey Cards. The player, who visits all of their destinations first (correctly answers questions at their destination city), is the winner of the game.

Game Materials
The following materials are included in the Magellan 2000 game:
  • Game board (map of the world)

  • Four playing pieces, each a different color (blue, red, yellow, green)

  • A six sided die

  • One stack of Journey Cards (134 possible destination cards)

  • Six stacks of continent Question Cards (144 cards)

  • One stack of Chance Cards (90 cards)

  • One Magellan 2000 Action Spinner

  • One sand-through-the-hour-glass minute timer

Time Required

The game is for 2 to 4 players and will play for approximately thirty minutes to an hour. Players can determine the length of the game by deciding how many Journey Cards will be dealt at the beginning of the game. Players can deal 5-10 cards, depending on how much time they have available and how many players will play.

The Rules
  • To start the game, players roll the die to determine who goes first and from which location each player starts. The player rolling the highest number will move first and choose their start location. If two or more players tie, they will roll again to determine starting order / location.

  • There are four predetermined, colored coded start points on Magellan 2000 game board:
    • Upernavik, Greenland (green)
    • Krasnoyarsk, Russia (blue)
    • Perth, Australia (yellow)
    • Los Angeles, USA (red)

  • The four playing pieces have corresponding color codes. For example, a player that chooses to start from Perth, will use the yellow piece. Each player (or team) places their colored piece on the matching colored start point.

  • The dealer shuffles the deck of Journey Cards and deals an equal number of cards (5-10) to each player. The number of Journey Cards dealt will determine the duration of play for the game.

  • After players sort their cards, each player is required to pass two of their Journey Cards to the person seated to their right. These passed Journey Cards are to be integrated into one's hand for play.


  • The player with the first turn spins the Magellan 2000 Action Spinner. The player then moves their piece the indicated latitude and longitude toward their first Journey destination. The player has the right to move any direction, along any route to their chosen destination. Each player can chose the order in which they visit each destination.

  • Each player must move the specified distance indicated by the Action Spinner, unless the player is in the location grid of their destination city (no movement required).

  • If the spinner points at the Chance Card space, the player will draw a Chance Card. There are four types of Chance Cards:
    • Obstacle Joker Protection Cards: When a player draws a Joker Obstacle Card, they can hold the card for use at any time in the future. A player who draws an Obstacle Card but possesses a Joker-Obstacle Card can avoid obeying to the obstacle cardŐs direction by playing the Joker Card.

    • Attack Cards: When a player draws an Attack Card, they can hold the card for use at any time in the future. A player in turn to play may choose to use an Attack Card instead of spinning the Action Spinner. The Attack Card can be used on any opponent. The Attack Card has three locations that one may send their opponents. They may send their opponent either to the South Pole, the New Siberian Islands, or to Svalbard. ItŐs up to the "attacker" to select the location where the "attacked" opponent will be sent.

    • Attack-Protection Cards: When a player draws an Attack-Protection Card, they can hold the card for use at any time in the future. The player who gets thrown an Attack Card can protect oneself from the attack.
  • If the spinner points at the "cleared to land" space (player not in a location grid of their destination city) or on a line, the player will spin again. When a player lands in a space marked with a silver star, the player is required to draw a Chance Card.

  • Following use, all cards drawn are sorted by kind and placed in a stack outside the game board. They can be shuffled and reintroduced to the game as necessary (in case the cards run out).


  • Upon reaching a location grid of one of their destination cities, the player spins the Action Spinner (once per player turn) until they are "cleared to land". If the Action Spinner indicates a latitude / longitude movement, there is obligation to move.

  • Once a player is cleared to land, the opponent on their left draws a Question Card from the stack corresponding to the continent/area where the player has landed. For example, if your opponent has been cleared to land in London, England, a green question card corresponding to Europe is read to the player by the opponent.

  • There are six stacks of Question Cards placed on marked areas next to the game board. The cardŐs color matches the color of the marked cities on the board (map). The six colors are yellow (Australia and Oceanic Islands), red (South America), blue (Asia), green (Europe), purple (North America), and orange (Africa).

  • The opponent, sitting on the left of the player, asks the question. Upon reading the question, the player turns over the timer and begins to solve the problem. The player has one minute (timer) to solve the problem and give the answer.

  • If they respond correctly, they are able to discard the specific Journey Card for that destination. If they fail to answer or do not answer correctly, they must wait for their next turn to be asked a new question. The player can not move to another city until they give a correct answer.

Transit between Asia (left and right portions of the board) can be freely made by all players simply by moving their game piece to the corresponding latitude and longitude location grid on the opposite side of the board. For example a player moving in Russia towards the East (on the right side of the board) may continue movement and place their piece on the left side of the board.

The first player to land at each of their destinations and correctly answer the questions (no cards remaining) is the winner of the game.

Design Process
The idea that drove the design of this game was our intention to present children with a game to develop their map reading skills and their ability to use latitude and longitude to determine the location of a country or city. We also reviewed the National Framework Geography Standards to identify the goals and activities established for 4th and 5th grade students. The fundamental objective in the standards was the need for students to be able to understand how to use maps and other geographical representations to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective. We thought that the best way to do that was to use a map of the world as the interface of our game board.

The game board is arranged so that players need to identify and locate key places and regions of the world. In the process, players relate world capitals and cities with countries, countries with continents, and the relationship of these locations with their physical placement on earth. This movement over the board simulates a journey conducted while flying as a crewmember (navigator) in a jet aircraft. The use of Journey Cards send players to capital cities located throughout the world. The capitals are emphasized on the board with colored marks so that players relate them easily with their countries, continents, and their placement on the earth.

Initially we intended to include mythological and other characteristic elements associated with various geographical locations (e.g., Bermuda Triangle, etc.), but during the design process we agreed that this would cause confusion and diverge from the basic focus of the game. We still believe that this element would add motivational value to the game, but were unable to graphically depict these elements into the current prototype. In our initial design, we also included the idea of having players adding points whenever they answered a question correctly. This idea faded as we discovered that this would add undesired complexity to the game for the determination of the game winner. Therefore, we decided that we should direct the theme of the game toward an adventure journey game. Whereby the player who reaches each destination and answers latitude and longitude based geographical questions first will ultimately be successful. The answering of geography questions using latitude and longitude is emphasized by the use of the timer (speed & accuracy factor).

In addition to the basic use of latitude and longitude to answer location oriented questions, we also used spatial questions to emphasize the relationship of capitals, cities, and continents to the Equator, the Tropic of Cancer, the Tropic of Capricorn, the International Date Line, and the Prime Meridian. The question cards were coded to the continents. We felt that this would better support the spatial relationship objectives. For example, if a journey destination was Kuala Lumpor, Malaysia, questions would be asked that pertain to Asia.

In selecting our game theme, our initial thought was to use sailing vessels as game pieces. However, during the design process, we discovered that this would dramatically limit the scope of the game by being able to use only maritime destinations. Therefore, we decided that our game pieces would represent jet aircraft that are able to fly above the speed of sound (quick movement) and are able to travel to land based destinations. The movement of the pieces around the board was our next consideration. Our initial intention was to use a predetermined racetrack type pattern that players would use to move around the world. In this paradigm, players would have used dice for movement along the arbitrary predetermined path. We abandoned this idea for use of a more engaging approach. The race track / dice format would have greatly limited player movement and would not have reinforced the core objective of using latitude and longitude on the game board. We opted to use an "Action Spinner" for the movement of game pieces. The Action Spinner indicates how many degrees (both latitude and longitude) that each player will move. Players are given the freedom to move in any direction and must continually use latitude and longitude skills on each movement of the game piece.

To make the game challenging and exciting, we added Chance Cards that may be either an obstacle (Obstacle Cards) or protection (Obstacle-Protection and Attack-Protection Cards) from a threat. Attack Cards were used to increase off turn player involvement in the game. This brings more interactivity between players and keeps them involved throughout the whole game. We may have overplayed the role of the chance cards, but only more intensive game playing and testing will answer this design question.

We believe this theme and design (spinner and player determined movement) best meet the objectives of the game (development of latitude and longitude skills).

Game Board, Playing Cards, & Spinner
Magellan 2000 Game Board Image Map    
Attact Card DestinationStarting LocationStart Point and Obstacle LocationObstacle: HawaiiObstacle: Tanker / Attack DestinationObstacle: Tanker Track South
Game Starting Location    
Los Angeles (Red Dot):
Attack Destination (South Pole):
Obstacle Card Destination
Obstacle & Attack Destinations
Start Point, Obstacle Destination and Journey Destinations (Greenland)
Obstacle Location: Hawaii:
Magellan 2000 Action Spinner      
Journey Card
Chance Cards
Bad Weather
Mechanical Problems
Medical Problems
Obstacle Joker Protection Card
Attack Card
Attack Card Protection
Question Card (example)


Books & Journals

  • Grove N. &, Boorstin D. (1998). Atlas of World History,(7th ed). US: National Geographic Society.
  • National Geographic Society (1999). National Geographic: Atlas of the World (7th ed.). US: National Geographic Society.




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Last updated October 23 2000