Book Details

  • Online Resource
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $35.00
  • June 2016
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-28943-5
  • License Term (days): 180
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

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    At Play in the Cosmos: The Videogame

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    Jeff Bary (Author, Colgate University), Adam Frank (Author, University of Rochester)


    At Play in the Cosmos is a first-of-its-kind resource in astronomy education. Jeff Bary (Colgate University) and Adam Frank (University of Rochester) worked with the nonprofit Learning Games Network to develop a mission-based online videogame where students can fly up to twenty missions that span the entire scope of the course from basic physics to cosmology.


    Developed by experts

    At Play in the Cosmos is the product of close collaboration in three fields: game-based learning, video game design, and teaching introductory astronomy.
    Astronomers Jeff Bary and Adam Frank worked with the nonprofit Learning Games Network (affiliated with the University of Wisconsin and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and W. W. Norton to develop the game.

    Mission based, narrative driven

    The theme of exploration drives student gameplay through a variety of narrative and collection missions. In the guided, narrative missions, each student assumes the role of a search/survey/rescue contractor. The game’s Cosmic Operations Research Interface (CORI) guides students through achieving goals, like finding a habitable exoplanet or redirecting a rogue comet. Along the way, students are asked to choose the right scientific tool for the task, putting underlying course concepts to use.

    Thirty Interactive Simulations, available as reference tools within the game, introduce basic concepts through multiple representations: variable view, numeric view, and graphical view. All simulations are controlled with just one or two sliders to help students focus on learning the concepts rather than just fiddling with the controls.

    Data-driven possibilities for use in class

    At Play in the Cosmos reports data on students’ gameplay back to the instructor, so you can track time on task, mission completion, and students’ patterns of selecting the correct (or incorrect) scientific tools for each mission.  

    A great value

    The game is available with every copy of Adam Frank’s textbook, Astronomy: At Play in the Cosmos, at no extra cost for spring 2017 classes. For fall 2017 classes and beyond, access can be purchased standalone or packaged with any W. W. Norton introductory astronomy text. 

    A textbook that is not written like a textbook

    In every chapter, author Adam Frank interviews two scientists and infuses the prose with their quotations and anecdotes, a journalistic style that keeps students engaged and reading. Section Summaries review important concepts and serve as a study guide for each chapter, while a Running Glossary provides definitions to boldface terms in the margins for easy reference. 

    Author-Influenced media

    As he wrote the text, the author considered how to enhance reading by making the science interactive. Highlighted with icons in the book and ebook, 50 fun easy-to-use Interactive Simulations help students grasp physical and mathematical concepts by asking them to interact with the figures and bringing textbook art to life.  

    The best value in introductory astronomy

    Astronomy: At Play in the Cosmos includes SmartWork5 and Norton ebook access. Learning Astronomy by Doing Astronomy, a workbook offering collaborative lecture activities, can be packaged with the text at no additional cost. For the instructor no longer interested in a print text, we offer a digital option which includes SmartWork5 and the ebook at a fraction of the cost. 

    Astrobiology introduced in Part II

    Is there life beyond Earth? is a question commonly asked by those taking introductory astronomy. Rather than relegating astrobiology to the last chapter, Frank explores this topic in Chapter 9. This placement is ideal for instructors interested in teaching this material but who often run out of time at the end of the term.  

    SmartWork5: Dynamic online assessment with rich, answer-specific feedback

    SmartWork5 coaches students with hints that help them understand key concepts while enabling instructors to assess student progress. Each question links to the appropriate section of the Astronomy: At Play in the Cosmos ebook and, for every chapter, SmartWork5 includes pre-made assignments written specifically for this textbook. Smartwork5 in phone and tablet compatible and integrates with the most popular campus learning management systems. 

      Part I: Bedrock
      Chapter 1: Getting Started: Science, Astronomy, and Being Human
      Chapter 2: A Universe Made, a Universe Discovered: The Night Sky and the Dawn of Astronomy
      Chapter 3: A Universe of Universal Laws: From the Copernican Revolution to Newton’s Gravity
      Chapter 4: A Universe of Universal Laws: How Light, Matter, and Heat Shape the Cosmos

      Part II: Planets Near and Far
      Chapter 5: The Architecture and Birth of Planetary Systems
      Chapter 6: Home Base: Earth and the Moon
      Chapter 7: Sibling Worlds: Mercury, Venus, and Mars
      Chapter 8: Gas, Ice, and Stone: The Outer Planets
      Chapter 9: Life and the Search for Habitable Worlds

      Part III: A Galaxy of Stars

      Chapter 10: The Sun as a Star
      Chapter 11: Measuring the Stars: The Main Sequence and Its Meaning
      Chapter 12: Nursery of the Stars: The Interstellar Medium and Star Formation
      Chapter 13: To the Graveyard of Stars: The End Points of Stellar Evolution
      Chapter 14: Down the Rabbit Hole: Relativity and Black Holes

      Part IV: A Universe of Galaxies
      Chapter 15: Our City of Stars: The Milky Way
      Chapter 16: A Universe of Galaxies
      Chapter 17: The Cosmic Web: The Large-Scale Structure of the Universe
      Chapter 18: Endings and Beginnings: Cosmology