Game of the Week: National Geographic Puzzle Explorer

By Elaine Larson

We’re all intrigued by mazes! And with National Geographic Puzzle Explorer, students can create their own mazes with obstacles that come to life—wild animals, locked gates, paths that suddenly disappear, to name a few—while exploring the world. The obstacles the players place in their mazes act as they do in real life and can help or hinder players’ navigation in the game.

With every experience, players create their own puzzling mazes by choosing the paths to success or setting up barriers along the way. They can also share their puzzles with friends and family and challenge them to solve their puzzles.

Why It’s Cool

Mazes are fun—especially when we can create the mazes ourselves and challenge our friends to solve them. It’s cool to see the maze take shape, with various types of obstacles and “secret passages” that make the game more challenging and interesting.

Am I Learning?

The game is designed to nurture cognition, creativity, and basic problem-solving skills by teaching students to design and build interactive mazes through colorful graphics and imaginative game play. Players have to decide the best paths to create and how to use obstacles and keys to add complexity to the maze. Players also gain geographic knowledge about various locations around the world by unlocking photo facts from National Geographic.

An Instructors Tool Kit is provided to help educators guide students to get the most out of the game. The tool kit includes a complete description of how the game builds skills; lesson ideas aligned with national standards; and guidelines for using the game to teach Pre-K-2nd grade, 3rd-5th grade, and students with special needs. A similar tool kit is available for parents.

Both tool kits contain the Puzzle Explorer Cake Recipe PLUS a paper craft version of the game—complete with all of the blocks and creations from the digital Yucatan Region in the game to print, cut out, and assemble!

Created for both iOS and Android tablets and phones, the first location in the app—the Yucatan Peninsula—is available for free. And you can get all of the fun features—and real learning—by building mazes in this free version.

If you want to add locations, you can purchase the Exploration Package with Antarctica and the Himalayas and the Expedition Package with the Nile River Valley and the Australian Outback.

Elaine is our instructional design manager here at Nat Geo Education. If you’re curious about how to engage students with game-play, learn more with her starter guide here!

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