Solar system lesson plan — July’s Quest of the Month

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of a crew of interplanetary explorers embarking on Classcraft’s Quest of the Month. In their middle school mission to find a safe place for resettlement … 

Each month at Classcraft, we choose one awesome quest to promote. Our pick for July is “Guardians: 2 – Exploring Our Solar System,” an out-of-this-world lesson plan created by Jason Howse (@MrHExperience).

Designed for a science class, this dystopian adventure gives students a deeper understanding of the solar system. Though writing, playing games, and hands-on projects — including building a biodome and rover — students learn about the characteristics and challenges of our closest planets. Jason’s quest includes a captivating interstellar story and encourages students to use creativity and critical thinking skills. Import this quest to start using it with your class. 

Quests are personalized, self-paced, choose-your-own-adventure lessons for students. If you use Classcraft, you can submit quests you’ve created to be the next Quest of the Month on our submission page. Our goal is to spotlight the amazing educators who inspire us and share creative, teacher-made content with our global community of forward-thinking educators.

Take it away, Jason!

Gamemaster Jason Howse
Gamemaster Jason Howse

What are your teaching stats?

Jason Howse: I’ve been an educator for a total of 18 years. Currently, I teach grades 5 and 6, all subjects — does that make me a Renaissance man? — at the Ecole Harbour Landing School in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

What inspires you?

Howse: Differentiated instruction and anti-oppressive education.

What made you decide to use Classcraft? 

Howse: From the time I started gamifying my class three years ago, Classcraft has been the perfect tool for supporting my students. It allows them to visualize their progress and goal-setting, get excited by the characters and events in our game, and (because I am not history’s finest accountant) manage their points and currencies. 

Classcraft works as the narrative layer I place on the curriculum my students work with. [It gives me a way] to present [lessons] as in-game quests, side quests, and challenges. I also love how inherently collaborative it is, as this is an important feature in my game.

Your favorite things about Classcraft are …

Howse: The visuals and interactive maps are stunning, but my favorite feature has always been Random Events. This feature is so exciting and engaging and serves as a beautiful transition for my students. As soon as they see the Riders of Vay, it is GAME ON!

Why do you love the quest you created? 

Howse: “Guardians: 2” is a quest that I have been tinkering with for more than a year, with the help and input from other gamified teachers in my PLN. At the surface, it is a research task that has been done countless times, but I am very proud of the way that a narrative context and some simple game mechanics infuse it with a sense of purpose and urgency. 

I would recommend that you give “Guardians: 2” a try with your class, as you will be blown away by the problem-solving and creative thinking they demonstrate. I guarantee that “presentation day,” with you in the role of the government sponsor, will be AMAZING!

What did your students think of your quest? How did they react? 

Howse: My students went bananas for this quest! I am a big fan of the teaser trailer, and this had them hooked from the start, but once they were off on their adventures, they immediately wanted to be the group that saved Earth’s population. Some even assigned different positions (captain, commander, medic, etc.) to the different people in their crew. I was actually surprised by how deeply this quest resonated with them.

How do you spend your summer breaks? 

Howse: Traveling with my family does not involve the standard preparations. I am on an MLB ballpark quest — I have been to 21 major league parks to date — so this often determines our destination. Once we have decided on that, we find the best coffee shops, donut shops, and record stores. Throw in a good book and a concert or two, and it’s the perfect getaway for my family.

What accomplishment from this year has filled you with pride? 

Howse: A major part of my job is being the lead teacher of our school’s gender and sexuality alliance (GSA), and this was an amazing year. We hosted a summit at my school for LGBTQ+ youth and their allies that was attended by over 200 students from our city. In my job, creating safe spaces for gender and sexually diverse students is a major priority, and I was honored to have been a part of this event.

How do you think students will remember you and your class? 

Howse: I hope my students will remember me for being a teacher that wanted learning to be fun and memorable. 

How long would you survive a zombie apocalypse? 

Howse: Not long. If I learned anything from the movie “Zombieland,” it was the importance of cardio. That said, it was obviously not the most motivating movie, as I have done exactly zero minutes of cardio in recent memory.

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