Immersive Educational Game Simulations to Enhance Understanding of Corn-Water-Ethanol-Beef System Nexus

September 1st, 2016 - August 31st, 2019 | PROJECT

As part of an overall strategy to enhance learning within informal environments, the Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems (INFEWS) and Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) programs partnered to support innovative models poised to catalyze well-integrated interdisciplinary research and development efforts within informal contexts that transform scientific understanding of the food, energy, and water systems (FEWS) nexus in order to improve system function and management, address system stress, increase resilience, and ensure sustainability. This project addresses this aim by using systems thinking and interdisciplinary integration approaches to develop a novel immersive educational simulation game and associated materials designed to highlight the role and importance of corn-water-ethanol-beef (CWEB) systems in supporting the ever increasing demands for food, energy, and water in the United States. The focus on FEWS and sustainable energy aligns well with both the INFEWS program and the sizable sustainability-related projects in the AISL program portfolio. The development and broad dissemination of a multiuser game specific to CWEB systems are particularly innovative contributions and advance for both program portfolios and their requisite fields of study. An additional unique feature of the game is the embedding of varying degrees of economic principles and decision-making along with the nuisances of cultural context as salient variables that influence systems thinking. Of note, a team of computer science, management and engineering undergraduate students at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln will be responsible for the engineering, development, and deployment of the game as their university capstone projects. If successful, this game will have a significant reach and impact on youth in informal programs (i.e., 4-H clubs), high school teachers and students in agriculture vocational education courses, college students, and the public. The impact could extend well beyond Nebraska and the targeted Midwestern region. In conjunction with the game development, mixed-methods formative and summative evaluations will be conducted by an external evaluator. The formative evaluation of the game will focus on usability testing, interest and engagement with a select sample of youth at local 4-H clubs and youth day camps. Data will be collected from embedded in-game survey questionnaires, rating scales, observations and focus groups conducted with evaluation sample. These data and feedback will be used to inform the design and refinement of the game. The summative evaluation will focus on the overall impacts of the game. Changes in agricultural systems knowledge, attitudes toward agricultural systems, interest in pursuing careers in agricultural systems, and decision making will be aligned with the Nebraska State Science Standards and tracked using the National Agricultural Literacy Outcomes (NALOs) assessment, game analytics and pre/post-test measures administered to the evaluation study sample pre/post exposure to the game.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

2021 Poster - reFEWSing to give-up: reflections on a multi-year project to develop educational video games based on scientific models

Team Members

Jeyamkondan Subbiah, Principal Investigator, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Eric Thompson, Co-Principal Investigator
Deepak Keshwani, Co-Principal Investigator
Richard Koelsch, Co-Principal Investigator
David Rosenbaum, Co-Principal Investigator


Funding Source: NSF
Award Number: 1639478
Funding Amount: $999,644.00


Audience: Educators | Teachers | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals | Undergraduate | Graduate Students | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Afterschool Programs | Games | Simulations | Interactives | Media and Technology | Public Programs | Summer and Extended Camps

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This material is supported by National Science Foundation award DRL-2229061, with previous support under DRL-1612739, DRL-1842633, DRL-1212803, and DRL-0638981. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations contained within are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.

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