Startracks: A Stellar Leap in STEAM Education

Zhejiang University's Innovative Board Game Fosters Love for Astronomy

Startracks, an award-winning educational toy designed by Zhejiang University, is revolutionizing STEAM education by making learning about astronomy fun and engaging. This board game, inspired by interstellar exploration, uses rubidium magnets to simulate planetary gravity, providing a unique and interactive learning experience for children.

The design team at Zhejiang University identified a gap in the market for educational toys that teach children about cosmic astronomy in a systematic and engaging way. Their solution, Startracks, is a board-based matchmaking game that aims to fill this void. The game's unique properties lie in its ability to combine fun with education, using a board that mimics the gravitational pull of planets and game content supported by basic knowledge of astronomy.

The game is realized through the use of rubidium magnets at the bottom of the board, which simulate the gravitational pull of planets. The launch and landing of the spaceship are achieved through the magnetic attraction of these magnets, providing a sensory effect of the planet's gravity. The planetary resources are presented as prop cards with different planetary knowledge content and corresponding functions.

Startracks is not only unique in its concept but also in its design specifications. The board has a diameter of 500mm and a thickness of 20mm, while the rubidium magnets are 25mm and 20mm in diameter. The prop cards, which are integral to the game, measure 80mm in length and 60mm in width.

The design team, consisting of Leijing Zhou, Rui Lei, Yi Chen, Zhengtong Wu, Shaogeng Zeng, Minghong Xu, and Yunnong Chen, faced several challenges during the design process. The main challenge was making interstellar exploration more intuitive. They overcame this by using magnetic fields to simulate the gravitational pull of planets. The game mechanics were designed to ensure a balanced game, with most of the time spent on two-player versus two-player game mechanics.

Startracks was awarded Silver in A' Toys, Games and Hobby Products Design Award in 2023. This prestigious award is given to top-of-the-line, creative, and professionally remarkable designs that demonstrate outstanding expertise and innovation. Startracks, with its strong technical characteristics and splendid artistic skill, showcases a remarkable level of excellence and introduces positive feelings, amazement, and wonder.

Project Details and Credits

Project Designers: Zhou Leijing
Image Credits: Rui Lei Yi Chen Zhengtong Wu Shaogeng Zeng
Project Team Members: Leijing Zhou Rui Lei Yi Chen Zhengtong Wu Shaogeng Zeng Minghong Xu Yunnong Chen
Project Name: Startracks
Project Client: Zhou Leijing

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