Co-Designing a VR STEM Mystery Game w/ Neurodiverse Learners (2021)


To study and model how virtual reality (VR) can be used to increase access to and broaden participation in STEM learning, we designed and researched a VR STEM-based mystery game with and for neurodiverse learners, particularly ones with sensory, attention, and social (anxiety) differences.

The game, Mission to Europa Prime, is set on an abandoned space station on Europa, a moon of Jupiter suspected to have an ocean under its icy crust and a prime candidate for hosting life; players must explore, make discoveries, solve puzzles, and figure out the ultimate mysteries.

Designers and researchers from EdGE at TERC and interns from Landmark College, a post-secondary institute for learners with autism and other learning differences, co-designed the game’s story, puzzles, and user interfaces. The stakeholders—neurodiverse learners—thus had a voice in the design process, embracing “nothing about us without us,” which has emerged as a central message within the neurodiversity movement, as well as other similar movements for equity across marginalized populations (Charlton, 2000).

This video addresses the importance of the co-design process.

EdGE –

TERC – UniVRsal Access:

Landmark College –

MXTreality: Europa Prime Blog –

NSF Award: 2005447