The ambition is to inspire millions of children worldwide to see their home planet from a different perspective: from outer space. Inspired by the ‘overview effect’ – a major shift in perspective that astronauts have reported as showing the beauty and fragility of our earth – SPACEBUZZ is a non-profit mission to create ambassadors of Planet Earth that will help to protect our planet for future generations. It does this through a conceptual educational program that aims to mimic a real astronaut’s experience of going into space.
The program – undergoing a research partnership with Tilburg University, The Netherlands – consists of a three-part mission structure supported with hands-on learning and a digital platform. As the ultimate part of the educational program, children are taken on a custom-engineered rocket that ‘launches’ into space, with a guided VR tour by ‘Flight Commander; and ESA Astronaut Andre Kuipers. On a low-orbit flyover of the earth, Kuipers points out the world’s natural wonders and inspires children to think differently about the earth, in order to inspire a generation that will aim to protect Planet Earth at all costs.
The SPACEBUZZ education program and rocket were created in only 18 months, supported by private funding along with the scientific research partnership with Tilburg University to study the effects of VR in education.
The VR simulation is preceded by a pre-mission and post-mission educational program, analogous to that of an actual astronaut. Following the pre-mission training program, children prepare themselves for the arrival of a rocket ship vehicle which virtually launches them into space. A post-mission program allows children to tell their astronaut story and share their experiences with friends and family.