Virtual reality (VR) technology can be a great educational tool, for both children and adults alike. SpaceBuzz, an educational VR programme offering school children astronautical experience originally began in The Netherlands and this week announced its global launch during the 70th International Astronautical Congress in Washington D.C.
SpaceBuzz has been designed to allow children to experience the ‘Overview Effect’, a cognitive shift often experienced by astronauts when viewing the Earth from space, making them more aware of the fragility of our planet when compared to the vastness of the cosmos.
This all takes place inside a 50-foot SpaceBuzz rocket ship which can fit up to nine people at a time. Designed as an open-access platform SpaceBuzz will be localized by national astronauts for any country and language, so children can engage in their home language.
Additionally, over the next four years, SpaceBuzz will be working alongside Dr. Max Louwerse, professor at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. He’ll be researching the correlation between the experience and learning gains in elementary school children.
“We have been humbled by SpaceBuzz’s success in the Netherlands. The program is fully booked by schools until 2021 and we are currently building a second rocket. However, this was always meant to become a global program,” said André Kuipers, who has spent a total of 204 days in space, in a statement. “It is SpaceBuzz’s mission to turn children worldwide into ambassadors of planet Earth and I am beyond excited to be able to share this strong outreach tool with all of my space colleagues and more importantly, children all around the world.”
“Coming to Washington D.C. is a huge opportunity for SpaceBuzz,” said Zoran van Gessel, chairman of the Overview Effect Foundation, the non-profit organization behind the program, which is financed entirely through private funding and donations. “With the combination of the global audience, strong astronautical industry, and funding opportunities, we seek to further our ambitions. We look forward to connecting with founders, entrepreneurs, and organizations that can help us drive this project forward to create the next generation of ambassadors of planet Earth.”