Title:
Educational game
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An educational game simulates a trip across the solar system from the Sun to the planet Pluto. Players begin at the Sun position on the game board, and progressively advance across the board to each planet position. Advance over the sequential playing positions between each planet is determined by a single die. Upon arriving at each planet position, the player must correctly answer a question relating to astronomy or astronautics. The board also illustrates an asteroid belt, containing a greater number of sequential positions. Players must count by a numerical factor determined by randomly drawing a card, to cross this area. Upon arriving at the planet Pluto position, the player must correctly spell the names of all nine planets of the solar system to return to Earth, winning the game. Two or more players/teams may play, with a non-playing keyholder asking the questions during play.



Inventors:
Jones, Vera A. (Williamsburg, VA, US)
Jones, Michael B. (Williamsburg, VA, US)
Application Number:
09/892770
Publication Date:
01/16/2003
Filing Date:
06/28/2001
Assignee:
JONES VERA A.
JONES MICHAEL B.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F3/00; (IPC1-7): A63F3/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20090289415PUZZLENovember, 2009Mccarty
20080036148Poker gameFebruary, 2008Mignogna
20040188933Video game controller thumb padSeptember, 2004Siciliano
20030189288Novel games, and methods for improved game play in games of chance and games of skillOctober, 2003Katz et al.
20110049806More or less video pokerMarch, 2011Haddad
20060043679Manufacturing component trading cardMarch, 2006Fallon et al.
20160107077Table top soccer board game utilizing marblesApril, 2016Kuroiwa
20070158908CARD GAME AND METHOD OF PLAYINGJuly, 2007Stone
20150145208Card Game and Method of PlayingMay, 2015Moriak et al.
20040017042Child's game employing tiles w/animal-pictographsJanuary, 2004Piernas
20100213673UNIQUELY IDENTIFIABLE PLAYING CARDSAugust, 2010Garcia



Primary Examiner:
MENDIRATTA, VISHU K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Richard C. Litman (Alexandria, VA, US)
Claims:

We claim:



1. An educational game apparatus, comprising: a game board representing the solar system; a starting Sun position and first through ninth planetary paths, arranged progressively and generally concentrically from said Sun position upon said game board; each of said planetary paths having a planet position representing one of the nine planets of the solar system; an interplanetary band disposed between said starting Sun position and said first planetary path and each of said planetary paths of said game board; a sequential series of numerical playing positions disposed within each said interplanetary band of said game board; chance means for randomly generating a number for player advance upon said numerical playing positions during the course of play; a plurality of player position markers; and a plurality of question cards relating to the planets of the solar system.

2. The educational game apparatus according to claim 1, further including: an asteroid belt band disposed between said fourth and said fifth planetary paths of said game board; a sequential series of numerical playing positions disposed within said asteroid belt band of said game board; and short interval timer means for limiting player time during at least one turn of play.

3. The educational game apparatus according to claim 2, further including: a plurality of counting cards each defining a numerical factor for advancing said player position markers along said series of numerical playing positions of said asteroid belt band.

4. The educational game apparatus according to claim 1, further including: at least one advance position, at least one retreat position, and at least one rest position disposed upon said game board.

5. The educational game apparatus according to claim 1, wherein: said game board is rectangular and includes four corners; said starting Sun position disposed in one of said corners; and each of said planetary paths generally comprising an arc with each said interplanetary band disposed alternatingly therebetween.

6. The educational game apparatus according to claim 1, wherein: said game board includes a center position; said starting Sun position is disposed in said center position; of said game board; and each of said planetary paths and each said interplanetary band are disposed generally concentrically about said starting Sun position of said game board.

7. The educational game apparatus according to claim 1, wherein: each of said plurality of player position markers is configured for representing a spacecraft.

8. The educational game apparatus according to claim 1, further including: a one minute sand glass timer for timing intervals during play; and wherein said chance means comprises a single cubical die.

9. A method of playing an educational game, comprising the steps of: (a) providing a game board representing the solar system, with the game board having a starting Sun position, first through ninth planetary paths arranged progressively and generally concentrically from the Sun position, each of the planetary paths having a planet position representing one of the nine planets of the solar system, an interplanetary band disposed between the starting Sun position and the first planetary path and each of the planetary paths of the game board, and a sequential series of numerical playing positions disposed within each interplanetary band of the game board; (b) further providing channce means for randomly generating a number for player advance upon the numerical playing positions during the course of play; (c) further providing a plurality of player position markers; (d) further providing a plurality of question cards relating to the planets of the solar system; (e) selecting at least two players and determining the order of play; (f) determining a non-playing keyholder person for monitoring the game and assisting the players during the course of play; (g) placing the player position markers upon the starting Sun position; (h) sequentially determining player moves across the numerical playing positions of each interplanetary band in order from the starting Sun position, by using the chance means; (i) sequentially reaching planet positions between each two of the bands; (j) answering a question from one of the question cards; and (k) continuing in the above manner until one of the players reaches the outermost planet position.

10. The method of playing an educational game according to claim 9, wherein the step of answering a question from one of the question cards further includes the step of losing a turn for an incorrect answer to the keyholder in response to one of the question cards.

11. The method of playing an educational game according to claim 9, further including the steps of: (a) providing an asteroid belt band disposed between the fourth and fifth planetary paths of the game board; and (b) further providing a series of numerical factor playing positions disposed within the asteroid belt band of the game board.

12. The method of playing an educational game according to claim 11, further including the steps of: (a) providing a plurality of counting cards each defining a numerical factor for advancing the player position markers along the series of numerical factor playing positions of the asteroid belt band; (b) randomly drawing one of the counting cards for each of the players entering the asteroid belt band; and (c) counting off the playing positions of the asteroid belt band according to the numerical factor defined by the counting card drawn for the player advancing across the asteroid belt band.

13. The method of playing an educational game according to claim 12, wherein the step of counting off the playing positions of the, asteroid belt according to the numerical factor of the counting card drawn, further includes the steps of: (a) providing short interval timer means for limiting the time of the player advancing across the asteroid belt band; and (b) losing a turn for an incorrect count or for excessive time as determined by the short interval timer means.

14. The method of playing an educational game according to claim 9, further including the steps of: (a) providing at least one advance position, at least one retreat position, and at least one rest position disposed upon the game board; and (b) advancing, retreating, and resting the player position markers on the respective advance, retreat, and rest positions of the game board as they are encountered during the course of play.

15. The method of playing an educational game according to claim 9, further including the steps of: (a) spelling the names of the nine planets upon reaching the outermost planet; and (b) returning to the Earth position and winning the game after correctly spelling the names of the nine planets.

16. The method of playing an educational game according to claim 15, wherein the step of spelling the names of the nine planets further includes the step of losing a turn for incorrectly spelling any of the names.

17. The method of playing an educational game according to claim 9, further including the steps of: (a) forming the game board with a rectangular configuration having four corners; (b) locating the starting Sun position in one of the four corners; (c) configuring the planetary paths as a series of generally concentric arcs centered upon the starting Sun position; and (d) locating the first through ninth planet positions sequentially along the planetary paths.

18. The method of playing an educational game according to claim 9, further including the steps of: (a) forming the game board with a center position; (b) positioning the starting Sun position in the center position of the game board; and (c) positioning the planetary paths and first through ninth planet positions generally concentrically about the starting Sun position of the game board.

19. The method of playing an educational game according to claim 9, further including the step of configuring each of said plurality of player position markers to represent a spacecraft.

20. The method of playing an educational game according to claim 9, further including the steps of: (a) providing a single cubical die for the chance means; and (b) providing a one minute sand glass timer for timing intervals during play.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates generally to board games and the like, and more specifically to a board game having a board resembling the solar system and which tests the knowledge of players relating to the solar system and basic arithmetic. The game may be played by from two to several players, with each player being required to answer questions correctly as he or she advances over the game board.

[0003] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0004] While it is generally accepted that the learning process can be fun for the student, education is generally looked upon as a somewhat onerous task by most students. This is a shame, as generally all that is needed to make learning an enjoyable process is to incorporate the subject matter into some activity which is fun for the student(s), such as a competitive or non-competitive game of some sort.

[0005] There are many subjects which lend themselves well to incorporation in various games. Basic arithmetic is one such subject area, and is well suited for incorporation into a game, as the subject is generally considered to be one of the less enjoyable study areas by many, if not most, students. Other areas requiring knowledge of certain subject matter (history, etc.) also lend themselves well to incorporation into a game of some sort.

[0006] One subject area which is innately interesting to many students, is the study of the solar system. However, this subject is often reduced to pictures and text in a book, and is often not presented in the most interesting manner to students. This is unfortunate, as developing an early interest in our solar system can often lead to the development of interests in other areas of science, such as physics, astronautics and aeronautics, etc.

[0007] Accordingly, the present invention responds to this problem by providing a board game which challenges the knowledge and skills of players in the fields of basic arithmetic and our solar system. The present game may be played by from two to several players, with players simulating a trip from the sun to the outer planets across the playing board. Players must be able to answer various questions relating to the various planets of the solar system, astronomy, and astronautics, and be capable of basic counting, both sequentially and by single digit multipliers.

[0008] A discussion of the related art of which the present inventor is aware, and its differences and distinctions from the present invention, is provided below.

[0009] U.S. Pat. No. 4,111,427 issued on Sep. 5, 1978 to Nelson Patterson, titled “Space Travel Game,” describes an adventure type board game in which player position markers are advanced along a complex path over a game board. The area of space represented by the game is fictional, as opposed to the representation of the solar system provided by the present game. Patterson does not require players to answer any questions relating to the fictional planets or area of space of the board traversed during play, whereas the present game requires successful players to possess some knowledge of our solar system. Moreover, successful players of the present game must also have some skill in basic arithmetic, at least being able to count by multiples of a predetermined number, in order to advance over a portion of the board. Also, the present game requires the ability to spell the names of the nine planets of our system, unlike the Patterson game.

[0010] U.S. Pat. No. 4,504,061 issued on Mar. 12, 1985 to Walter F. Michel, titled “Space Travel Game,” describes a board game with a travel path simulating orbital flight and transfer between the Earth and the Moon. The Michel game does not include any other waypoints during the course of the game simulating stops at any of the other planets, as provided by the present board game. Moreover, player advance in the Michel game is controlled by pure chance means, whereas players involved in the present game must have some knowledge of our planetary system and basic astronautics in order to advance, as reaching each planet successfully requires the player to answer a question correctly.

[0011] U.S. Pat. No. 4,579,345 issued on Apr. 1, 1986 to Gerald W. Covey, titled “Board Game,” describes a board game utilizing chance means to determine player advance. While the present game also uses chance means, it also requires knowledge of our planetary system and other science, and some basic arithmetic and spelling skills as well. Moreover, the Covey game does not represent a continuous sequential advance over a playing board, as is the case with the present game. Also, the Covey game more closely relates to astrology and the signs of the zodiac, and does not require movement of player position markers to simulate a space flight outbound from the sun to the outer planets, as in the present game.

[0012] U.S. Pat. No. 5,037,109 issued on Aug. 6, 1991 to Christopher A. Bowen, titled “Space Travel Game,” describes a board game with the board having a series of concentric rings representing the orbits of the planets. Players move to various different orbits according to chance, i.e., the roll of a single die. While players may select a circumferential or radial move, there is no special knowledge or skill required of the players, as is required in the present educational game. Moreover, players of the Bowen space travel game have a choice of two different types of tokens to move, and may move one or the other in accordance with certain rules of the game. The present game provides only a single position marker or token for each player, but tests knowledge of the solar system, basic astronautics and astronomy, and basic arithmetic skills of the player during the course of play.

[0013] U.S. Pat. No. 5,816,819 issued on Oct. 6, 1998 to Patricia C. Rockburn, titled “Zodiac Game And Method Of Play,” describes a board game having a board with a representation of the zodiac thereon and a peripheral playing path. Players advance purely by chance according to the toss of dice, and are awarded additional awards based upon correctly answering various questions relating to the zodiac and astrology according to a series of question cards provided. Responding players need not be the player making the board move. The winner of the game is determined as the player who acquires the greatest number of award tokens during the course of the game. No movement is provided across the board simulating travel among the planets of the solar system. Moreover, no knowledge of arithmetic, spelling, or the solar system is required to play the Rockburn game, as opposed to the present game.

[0014] U.S. Pat. No. 5,860,652 issued on Jan. 19, 1999 to Stephen M. Ruff, titled “Educational Board Game,” describes a board game having a pictorial pathway disposed upon the game board. The path is formed of a series of different simple geometric shapes and colors. The game is intended for very young players, with questions relating to the shapes and colors of the playing path segments, as well as other questions relating to basic rules of safety and proper behavior within and outside the home environment. The questions are provided on a series of cards, with initial movement being determined by dice and “bonus” movement by correctly answering the card questions. No knowledge of numbers, the solar system, or spelling ability is required for play of the Ruff game.

[0015] U.S. Pat. No. 5,882,008 issued on Mar. 16, 1999 to Kenneth A. Siegesmund, titled “Board Game Apparatus And Method Involving Answering Objective And Subjective Questions,” describes a game having a board with a linear playing path. Each move is determined by tossing a die, with the success of the move being further determined by the moving player correctly responding to a question on a card. Means are provided for determining correct answers to subjective questions. The Siegesmund game is very general in nature, and does not require correct responses to questions relating specifically to the solar system, as required by the present game. Moreover, the Siegesmund game may require a response from a non-moving player, depending upon the move of the moving player during the course of play.

[0016] British Patent Publication No. 1,015,952 published on Jan. 5, 1966 to Andre Ortmans et al., titled “Improvements In Or Relating To A New Parlour Game,” describes a relatively complex game having a plurality of generally circular paths representing the travel of the planets and other paths as well. The Ortmans et al. game is based somewhat upon financial transactions as well as chance, in that simulated currency is provided for rewards and taken for poor moves. The object is to acquire the greatest wealth in simulated currency, or to be the last remaining player as others are removed from the game in accordance with other rules. Ortmans et al. do not require players to have any knowledge of details of astronomy or the planets of the solar system nor spelling ability, both of which abilities are a part of the present game.

[0017] Finally, British Patent Publication No. 2,019,228 published on Oct. 31, 1979 to Freda J. Dusnic, titled “Zodiac Board Game,” describes a game played upon a board having the zodiac represented thereon. Players receive a series of cards representing the zodiacal signs and planets, and attempt to align the planet representations with the zodiacal representations on the board in accordance with their cards and certain rules of play for planetary movement. No specific knowledge of the solar system, nor any arithmetic or spelling skills, are required of players of the Dusnic game, whereas the present game requires successful players to have such knowledge and skills. Moreover, the present game requires players to attempt to travel a path across a representation of the solar system, unlike the Dusnic game, where no particular travel path is provided.

[0018] None of the above inventions and patents, either singly or in combination, is seen to describe the instant invention as claimed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0019] The present invention comprises an educational board game in which successful players must demonstrate some knowledge of the solar system, basic astronautics, and/or astronomy, as well as basic arithmetic and spelling abilities. The present game includes a game board having at least a quadrant of the solar system illustrated thereon, with the sun, nine planets, and asteroid belt. A series of numbers are provided in each zone between each planet, and between planets and asteroid belt.

[0020] Each player is provided with a position marker, with a single die being used in common by all players to determine the magnitude of their moves. Players advance in turn across the numerical zones from the sun to Mercury and thence sequentially to the other planets, but are required to correctly respond to a basic question relating to the solar system, astronautics, astronomy, etc., as they arrive at each planet. A “keyholder” person (not a player) is responsible for determining if the response is correct, using an answer booklet or the like provided. In addition, players must count off by some predetermined multiplier (three, four, seven, etc.) in order to travel across the numbered area representing the asteroid belt. Upon reaching the outermost planet (Pluto), a player must then spell the names of all nine planets in order to be permitted to return to the Earth position to win the game.

[0021] Accordingly, it is a principal object of the invention to provide an improved educational game relating to the solar system and fictional travel therethrough.

[0022] It is another object of the invention to provide an improved educational game requiring basic knowledge of the solar system, astronomy, and arithmetic, and spelling for the successful player.

[0023] It is a further object of the invention to provide an improved educational game in which players begin at the sun position and continue progressively from inner to outer planet positions of the board by means of the random count of a single die and correctly answering a question relating to the solar system, astronautics, or astronomy at each arrival at a planet position on the board.

[0024] An additional object of the invention is to provide an improved educational game in which players reaching the asteroid belt area count across the asteroid belt according to a numerical factor or multiplier determined by randomly drawing a card, with a time limit for completion being applied.

[0025] Still another object of the invention is to provide an improved educational game in which players reaching the final planet position of the board are required to spell the names of all planets on the board in order to win the game.

[0026] It is an object of the invention to provide improved elements and arrangements thereof in an apparatus for the purposes described which is inexpensive, dependable and fully effective in accomplishing its intended purposes.

[0027] These and other objects of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0028] FIG. 1 is a plan view of a first embodiment game board, in which all of the features of the present game are provided in a single quadrant from the sun which is positioned at one corner.

[0029] FIGS. 2A, 2B, 2C and 2D are plan views respectively of first through fourth quadrants of a second embodiment game board, in which the Sun is at the center of the four quadrants.

[0030] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a single cubical die as used in the present educational game.

[0031] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of two exemplary player position markers used in the present educational game.

[0032] FIG. 5 is a flow chart showing the basic steps in the play of the present educational game.

[0033] Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0034] The present invention comprises an educational board game, for teaching and enforcing basic concepts of astronomy, basic arithmetic, and spelling to younger players. The present game includes a game board, a first embodiment of which is illustrated in FIG. 1 of the drawings and designated by the reference numeral 10. The game board 10 includes a representation of the solar system, with all of the major features of the solar system shown in a single quadrant. The board 10 is generally rectangular, with the Sun position 12 serving as a starting point and located in one of the four corners 14 through 20. First through ninth arcuate planetary paths 22 through 38 extend outwardly from the starting Sun position 12, with the paths 22 through 38 generally centered on the Sun position 12. Each of the paths 22 through 38 includes a representation of a planet position thereon, respectively 40 through 56, representing the nine planets of the solar system. A first interplanetary band 58 extends between the Sun position 12 and the first (Mercury) planetary path 22, with additional bands 60 through 72 extending respectively between paths 22 through 38.

[0035] Each interplanetary band 58 through 72 includes a sequential series of numbered playing positions, comprising the numbers one through twelve. These playing position numbers are each encircled and are generally indicated by the reference numerals 74 through 88, respectively for each of the interplanetary bands 58 through 72. In addition to the interplanetary bands 58 through 72, an asteroid belt band 90 extends between the fourth and fifth planetary paths 28 and 30, respectively for Mars 46 and Jupiter 48. This asteroid belt band 90 contains a series of asteroid belt position numbers comprising numerical factors ranging from two to one hundred, indicated by the reference numeral 92. The interplanetary band positions 74 through 88 and asteroid belt positions 92 define intermediate playing positions during the course play, with their use in the game described further below.

[0036] Each interplanetary band 58 through 72 and the asteroid band 90 may also contain one or more advance positions 94 (e.g., the “Move One Space Up” positions of the Mercury—Venus and Saturn—Uranus interplanetary bands 60 and 68), retreat positions 96 (e.g., the “Go Back One Space” and “Go Back Two Spaces” positions in the first interplanetary band 58), and a rest position 98, associated with the asteroid belt 90. Each of the advance positions 94 and retreat positions 96 is associated with one of the position numbers 74 through 88, with players being required to act according to the instruction of the advance or retreat position 94 or 96 as it is encountered during play. The rest position 98 may be used when traversing the asteroid belt 90, as explained further below.

[0037] Each player is assigned a player position marker, with exemplary markers 100 and 102 being illustrated in FIG. 4 of the drawings. The player position markers are used to indicate the progress of each player over the various positions of the board 10 during the course of play. As the present game is directed to the subject of interplanetary space travel, preferably the position markers are configured to resemble spacecraft (e.g., the space shuttle marker 100 and Hubble telescope marker 102). Other marker configurations may be provided as desired. The number of positions advanced or moved during each turn of play is determined randomly, as by means of the single cubical die 104 illustrated in FIG. 3 of the drawings. Other means for determining player moves (spinner, etc.) may be used if so desired.

[0038] FIGS. 2A through 2D illustrate a variation upon the above described game board 10, in which a game board 10a is divided into a series of quadrants 1 through 4. The various components 12 through 98 of the game board 10 have their equivalents on the game board 10a, with corresponding reference numerals of the board 10a including the character “a” following the number (e.g., sun 12a, corners 14a through 20a, etc.). When the quadrants 1 through 4 of the game board 10a are assembled, the sun position 12a occupies the center position 5 of the board 10a, with the planetary paths 22a through 38a and the interplanetary bands 58a through 72a disposed concentrically therearound. The game board 10a has the advantage of spreading out the various planetary and playing positions, as well as other features of the board, thereby making it more legible.

[0039] Upon reaching any of the planets 40 through 54 (excluding Pluto 56, as explained further below), players are required to answer a question correctly in order to continue to advance. A question card position 106 is provided on the game board 10 (with it being understood that an equivalent position may be provided on the board 10a as well in any suitable location), with a series of question cards (designated as “Get Off The Hot Spot” on the back of each card) being provided at the question card position 106. The questions may be randomly arranged, with a player arriving at any of the planetary positions 40 through 54 receiving a questions relating to the planets of the solar system, basic astronautics, or astronomy. Alternatively, the questions may be organized so the player answers a question relating only to the planet position reached. A series of exemplary questions is provided below: 1

TABLE I
QUESTION CARDS
What planet's rotation is identical to its orbital period about the sun?
(Mercury)
Which planet has a solid surface which can never be seen from Earth?
(Venus)
Which planet has the largest moon, in comparison to the size of the
planet? (Earth)
Which planet is called “the red planet”? (Mars)
Which is the biggest planet? (Jupiter)
Which planet would float, with enough water to put it in? (Saturn)
Which planet, besides Saturn, has rings? (Uranus)
Which planet is named after the Roman god of the seas? (Neptune)
Which planet has an orbit which occasionally passes inside the orbit of
another planet? (Pluto)

[0040] As noted further above, the above described questions are exemplary, and provide only a small sample of the various questions which may be included with the game. Preferably, a relatively large number of questions (at least one hundred, or perhaps one hundred fifty or more) is provided with the present game, in order to make it more difficult for players to memorize the questions and their answers and to make it more difficult for the players to anticipate the specific question which they may be asked at any given point during play. Normally, only a large fraction of the question cards will be in play at any given time, with card groups being exchanged as they are used during play. The questions may cover additional subject matter than the planets, e.g., “how far away is the nearest star?” “What is a black hole?” “Who was the first female U.S. Astronaut?” etc., as desired. Correct answers are provided in an answer booklet or the like held by the non-playing keyholder during the course of the game, with the keyholder verifying responses by the players during the course of play.

[0041] While more advanced questions may be developed which relate to orbital and rotational periods, densities, surface gravitation, etc., the above questions of Table I are of a level which is generally suitable for younger players who are most likely to play and enjoy the present game. While the questions of Table I are listed in the order in which their subject planets are arranged from the Sun, it will be noted that they may be randomized if so desired.

[0042] Movement through the asteroid belt area 90 of the game board 10 is accomplished in a different manner than that for the other interplanetary bands or belts 58 through 72. Rather than using the chance means 104 to determine movement, and requiring at least a few turns to complete the crossing, movement across the asteroid belt 90 is accomplished by counting the numbered player positions 92 according to a predetermined numerical factor, as defined by a randomly drawn counting card. These cards are placed in the counting card position 108 of the board 10, and instruct the player to count by ten repetitions of a multiplier ranging from two through ten to cross the asteroid belt band 90. (e.g., by sevens, 7, 14, 21, 28, etc., to 70.) A table listing the counting factor cards (designated as “Asteroid Counter” cards, on the back of each card) is provided below: 2

TABLE II
COUNTING FACTOR CARDS
Count by 2 
Count by 3 
Count by 4 
Count by 5 
Count by 6 
Count by 7 
Count by 8 
Count by 9 
Count by 10

[0043] Preferably, a relatively large number of such counting cards or “Asteroid Counter” cards is provided (e.g., fifty or perhaps seventy or more), in order to randomize the likely draw to a greater extent after players have drawn one or more cards.

[0044] The numbers of the “asteroid belt” area 90 of the game board 10 may comprise the entire set of sequential numbers ranging from one to one hundred inclusive, if so desired. However, this increases the complexity of that area of the board, and most of the numbers would not be used, as only a limited number of repetitions and counting factors are used. In any event, no prime numbers would be solutions for any counting multiplier factor. Thus, it may be preferable to include only those numbers which are solutions or multiplicands of all ten repetitions of all of the above nine factors, ranging from two through ten inclusive. This results in a total of forty one numbers being placed within the “asteroid belt” area 90 of the game board. However, additional unused numbers may be placed in this area if so desired, to increase the difficulty for players of the game.

[0045] Preferably, some means is provided for limiting the time spent by players in working through their count while crossing the “asteroid belt” area 90. Any suitable conventional short duration or short interval timing means may be used, as desired. For example, a small and inexpensive sand glass, used as a one minute kitchen timer, may be provided with the present game for timing purposes. Alternatively, any other conventional mechanical or electronic short interval timer (stopwatch, wristwatch with second hand or digital display of seconds, etc.) may be used as desired. The specific timing means is not critical, so long as time is limited to about a minute (or other short duration, as desired) to challenge the players and avoid excessive game delay during play.

[0046] The present educational game may be played using either game board 10 (quadrant plan) or 10a (complete planetary system layout), as desired. The game board 10 or 10a is deployed, with players selecting their player position markers 100, 102 (or others, not shown) as desired, and placing them upon the starting Sun position 12 or 12a, depending upon the board 10 or 10a in use. The order of play may be determined by the chance means provided with the game, e.g., rolling the die 104, with the resulting numbers determining the order of play. At this point, a “keyholder” person is also determined. The keyholder is generally an adult supervisor (parent, teacher, guardian, etc.) who monitors the game during play, and who may randomly draw question cards and “count by” cards for players at appropriate times during play, if the players do not do so themselves. However, the keyholder is not a player. The above described procedure for readying the game and players for play, is shown generally by the first step 110 in the FIG. 5 flow chart.

[0047] The first player begins the game by tossing the single die 104. The game rules require the player to roll a four in order to move from the starting or Sun position 12/12a. The odds of having a count of four using a single conventional cubical die 104, are about 17%. This has the effect of “spreading out” the players from the starting position, with about one out of each six players being able to make a move from the starting position on his or her first turn. (Numbers below four are provided in the first band 58/58a, to allow for the possibility of players being required to move back one or more positions.)

[0048] Players sequentially advance across the first interplanetary band 58 (or 58a) by tossing the single die 104 in turn and moving their position markers 100, 102, etc. accordingly, generally as indicated by the second step 112 of FIG. 5. The immediate goal in each interplanetary band, is to arrive at the planet defining the outer edge of that band, e.g., the planet Mercury 40 (or 40a) for the first interplanetary band 58/58a. In order to do so, players must have the exact number required to arrive at the planet, without “overshooting.” Thus, a player whose position marker is resting upon the nine position of the first interplanetary band positions 74/74a, must roll a three using the die 104. Any lower number allows the player to advance accordingly, but any higher number results in the loss of a turn by the player.

[0049] Generally, each of the interplanetary bands includes some hazards enroute, as in the case of the three retreat positions 96 disposed between the starting Sun position 12 and the Mercury planetary path 22 of the game board 10. If a player terminates a move on the four position, for example, the player must retreat by one space or position, to the three position. A player landing upon the eight position, must retreat two spaces to the six position. Finally, a player who has the misfortune to alight upon the eleven position must retreat all the way back to the starting Sun position, and begin again. Other retreat positions 96 and 96a are provided at various points across the respective game boards 10 and 10a.

[0050] Upon reaching a planet (e.g., Mercury 40) by tossing the exact number required, the successful player places his/her position marker upon the twelve position, extending to one side of the planet. (The final twelve position for each of the bands and planets may be placed within the circular outline of the planet, if space permits.) At this point, the player must correctly answer a question in order to continue to advance, as indicated generally by the third step 114 of FIG. 5. A question card is randomly drawn and read by the player from the cards previously placed in the questions box 106 at the beginning of the game. Alternatively, the card may be read by the keyholder to the appropriate player. If the player answers the question correctly, he or she is allowed to continue during his or her next turn. If the answer is incorrect, the player loses a turn, as indicated generally by the fourth step 116 of FIG. 5. Responses are verified by the keyholder, by an answer sheet or booklet held by the keyholder during play.

[0051] Play continues as described above until reaching the asteroid belt area 90/90a of the board 10/10a. At this point, the player (or keyholder) randomly draws an “asteroid counter” card from the area 108 provided on the board 10, with the player counting off ten positions 92 (or 92a, for the board 10a) distributed throughout the asteroid belt 90 according to the numerical factor on the card drawn. This is indicated by the fifth step 118 of FIG. 5, with an unsuccessful player losing a turn, as indicated by the sixth step 120 of FIG. 5. The unsuccessful player may try again using the same counting card, or may draw another card, as desired.

[0052] The successful player moves his/her position marker to the rest spot 98/98a after counting through the positions 92/92a of then asteroid belt 90/90a, whereupon he/she continues on the next turn by advancing toward the Jupiter position 48. Play continues generally in the manner described above, with each player seeking intermediate goals of arriving successfully at each successively outward planet along the way to the outermost planet (Pluto) position 56. Upon arriving at the Pluto position 56, the player must correctly spell the names of all of the nine planets in order to return to the Earth position 44/44a to win the game, as indicated generally by the seventh step 122 of FIG. 5. Incorrectly spelling any one of the nine planets results in the loss of a turn by that player, who must attempt to spell the names of the nine planets correctly again on his or her next turn.

[0053] In summary, the present educational game provides younger players with exercise in basic arithmetic and counting, basic knowledge of astronomy, astronautics, and our solar system, and spelling as well. The present game is well adapted to use in private, public, and home schooling environments, where a responsible adult is available to act as the keyholder and monitor the game. The present educational game provides a means for making learning fun for students, and will be appreciated by many students as an enjoyable pastime which is educational as well.

[0054] It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the sole embodiment described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.





 
Previous Patent: Golf board game

Next Patent: Wagering golf game