Our mobile devices can pay bills, deposit checks, connect us with friends in faraway places, provide the latest weather forecast, and make light work of an 800-page book. At this point, it seems that the only thing our digital devices can’t do is save the world. But that’s about to change.
In a few short years, a new portable experience will be ready to take on one of our society’s most pressing issues: how to balance the needs of various stakeholders in an ecosystem.
NYSCI’s new mobile application will challenge users to solve problems in a simulated world of playful creatures and vibrant flora. The world will be composed of interconnected ecosystems where players can control the behaviors of creatures to accomplish goals and respond to changes in the health of the habitats. The experience will allow players to work by themselves or join with friends to collaborate or compete.
Funded by the National Science Foundation and the JPB Foundation, the initiative is a collaborative effort between NYSCI, Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network, and Design I/O.
The application was recently a part of a White House Fact Sheet listing new commitments to President Obama’s Computer Science for All Initiative, a bold plan to give every American student the opportunity to learn computer science.
Inspired by NYSCI’s Connected Worlds exhibition, the application will get middle school students using the kinds of computational ideas (sequences, loops, variables, conditionals and events) and models that ecologists use to solve problems in environmental science. The goal is to get kids interested in ecology, and ultimately, to use their brainpower to help save our favorite planet.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1543144.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.