Sustained Student Inquiry

Alien Rescue offers students the opportunity to engage in a complete inquiry, which promotes depth of understanding of both the solar system and the way that scientists study the natural world. Students pose questions, search informational resources for existing knowledge, plan and carry out investigations of worlds in our solar system, analyze the data they collect, and apply their learning to the development of a solution plan.

Robust Scientific Knowledge

In order to solve the problem in Alien Rescue, students not only need to locate and acquire a great deal of scientific information, but come to view knowledge the ways scientists do in solving problems and understanding the world.

Integrated Curriculum

Though Alien Rescue focuses on the development of knowledge about the solar system and space exploration, it also contains connections to biology, reading for a purpose, social studies, history, and mathematics.

Real-life problem solving

Alien Rescue engages students in developing a solution to an ill-structured problem that is complex, lacks clear definition, and requires extended research and the consideration of multiple solution plans.

Self-directed learning

Alien Rescue supports students' development of self-directed learning skills through the provision of cognitive tools, and suggestions to the teacher on ways to interact with students to promote their ownership of the learning process.


Alien Rescue uses a science fiction context and embeds rich new media tools in a complex problem-solving learning environment to enhance students' motivation. It promotes active and collaborative learning and allows students to take ownership of their work.

A Scientific Community within the Classroom

Alien Rescue encourages students to share information, present their hypotheses, and critique alternative solution plans. This open communication and reliance on the combined insights of all the students requires students to work under the same conditions in which most scientists conduct their work.

Heterogeneous Grouping

The learning environment created by Alien Rescue supports learning by students of varying ability levels through cognitive tools provided by the program, interactions with the teacher, and peer collaboration. The richness of this environment makes it possible to challenge students with a wide range of talents and abilities.