Do I need to have specific software and hardware to use Alien Rescue?
Alien Rescue (online) is Web based. See the Technical Requirements. If you are interested in using it, contact us.
Does Alien Rescue address the National Science Standards?
Yes, here is how.
Does Alien Rescue address the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)?
Yes, here is how.
Are my students ready for problem-based learning (PBL)?
The instructional strategy used in Alien Rescue, PBL, has been shown to be effective. The rich variety of cognitive tools offered in Alien Rescue provides support for a wide range of students so that they can enjoy the educational benefits of PBL.
Can I use Alien Rescue in my large classes?
Rich and timely resources in Alien Rescue support students’ cognitive processes and make problem-based learning a viable instructional approach, even with large classes.
Will students transfer learning to other situations?
Sustained inquiry promotes in-depth of understanding of both the solar system and the way that scientists study the natural world, making it more likely that students will transfer their learning to other situations.
How does Alien Rescue provide skills that promote lifelong learning?
As students take on the responsibility of developing a solution plan in Alien Rescue, they generate their own learning needs and actively seek resources to meet those needs. These self-directed learning skills are critical to the development of the habits of life-long learning and are an important educational goal.
Do students direct their own learning?
At every point, students determine their own path through the program, meaning that they design and conduct a complete inquiry into the nature of worlds in our solar system.
What is an ill structured problem?
The problems students encounter in their curriculum are typically well-structured, meaning that they contain all the information needed to solve them and have only one correct solution. The problems confronting both people in their everyday lives and scientists engaged in their professional activities are ill-structured in nature. Alien Rescue engages students in developing a solution to an ill-structured problem. Ill-structured problems are complex, lack clear definition, and require extended research and the consideration of multiple solution plans.
What does research say about Alien Rescue?
Research studies conducted so far suggest that students' science knowledge has increased, their problem-solving was assisted by the cognitive tools provided, and enjoyed the use of the program. More info can be found in the Research section.
How many computers are needed to use Alien Rescue?
Alien Rescue is designed to be used in a collaborative setting. If possible, you can assign each student a computer of his or her own for the duration of the project. However, it is also possible for a small group of students (two to three) to share a computer.
Although this website mentions that it is mainly targeted for 6th graders, can it be used for 5th, 7th graders or 8th graders?
Yes. But necessary adjustments in the time duration of use and the level of difficulty of the assignments to be given need to be made.
How many hours of class time is required for 6th graders to complete Alien Rescue?
Alien Rescue is designed for approximately 15 class periods with 45 minutes long for each period. If you are on a block schedule, and classes are 80 minutes long, students will need computer access for approximately 8 days. It is highly recommended you reserve the computers at the beginning of the school year so you will have access to computers.
In the Alien Rescue project, are students supposed to work only on computer?
No. Students are supposed to not only work on computers but also participate in class discussions led by teachers, where science facts and concepts are shared.
What’s the role of teachers while Alien Rescue is being used?
A classroom teacher’s role in Alien Rescue is that of a facilitator. Here are some suggestions for being an effective facilitator:
  • Allow students to determine what they need to know in order to develop a solution.
  • Encourage students to use the resources within Alien Rescue to find the information they need.
  • Ask questions designed to get students to articulate their reasons for needing particular information.
  • Encourage discussion and debate among students.
  • Encourage collaboration.
  • Support students who are having trouble by brainstorming with them in a way they can address their difficulties.
  • Lead class discussions. (In Alien Rescue, not only “work on computers” but also “class discussion” is considered to be a major component of the project.) It is teachers who lead the class discussion, sharing science facts and concepts with students and having students reflect on information and their learning.
Are there any tips for teachers to facilitate students’ progress in understanding and solving the problem?
Here are some tips and examples that you may want to use in your classroom:
  1. Although you can have students to work on Alien Rescue individually, it is a good idea for students to be in a group of two or three to solve the problem together.
  2. Have students post their findings on a bulletin board for sharing information.
  3. Hold a class discussion every day.
  4. For the class discussions, have a list of probing questions ready to use if necessary.
  5. While students are at their computers, engage them in discussion of their work with their peers, both within and across the groups.
Are there any sample lesson plans?
Refer to Sample Lesson Plans. You can also refer to the Teacher’s Manual.
Who is using Alien Rescue?
Currently, the program is being used as part of the science curriculum by 16 middle schools in Central Texas with a diverse ethnic base. In addition, schools in at least 29 states (AZ CA CO CT FL GA HI IA IL IN KS MA MD MI MN MO MS NC NJ NM NY OH OR PA SC TN UT WA WI) and four countries (Australia, Canada, China, South Korea) have used and are using Alien Rescue.