Making the Science of Climate Change Accessible through an Educational Game
Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
June of 2017
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)
1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."
I am stepping up to make change because I know that climate change is an important issue and I think that I can ensure that future generations will better prepared to face its problems if they are provided with information about it from a young age. If we do change, we will continue to emit carbon emissions to an extent that will eventually surpass the levels of 2 degrees C as published by the IPCC. If the Paris Climate Accord is not achieved on a global scale, the effects of climate change will be irreversible. I am stepping up to make change by leading this campaign to make the science of climate change more transparent. Without bias, more people can be better educated and understand the issue of climate change. This will result in positive behavioral changes and eventually public support of climate change legislation.
2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
I am trying to solve the problem of lack of education in the area of climate change. I have found almost all elementary schools in America, environmental science is not being taught. Without these lessons, students may be exposed to bias or pseudo science that impacts their perception of environmental issues. In order to prevent misinformation, I want to make the science of climate change more accessible for youth with engaging games.
3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
In the summer of 2017, I wanted to address this issue so I created Operation Sustain, an educational city-builder game. In the game, students are tasked with building a successful city by placing houses, food sources, energy sources and making decisions for the citizens such as the level of taxes or the transportation that they use. While playing, students can learn about renewable energy and pollution through experimentation. At the end of the Summer, I worked with a professor at the University of Washington to test in improve the game quality. After finishing and testing the game, I then wrote curriculum that uses the game to teach to the 3rd - 5th grade Next Generation Science Standards. In order to make legitimate progress on solving the issue of lack of education, I brought this curriculum to elementary classes across Washington. Over the past months, I have been teaching elementary classes and improving aspects of the curriculum. In the future, I will continue to solve this problem by teaching more classes and scaling the organization to a more national level.
4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
In the fall of 2017, I wanted to pilot the curriculum I had written so I visited three elementary schools in my district. On the first day, I quizzed students to see their initial understanding of climate change. I found that the students were not properly educated and had misconceptions such as this one. Afterwards, I showed the students how to use the simulation and they were very excited. The students said that playing Operation Sustain was the most fun they had ever had at school. When I quizzed the students again on the final day, I found that they had, on average, more than doubled their initial score. This showed that they had learned and made improvements from playing Operation Sustain.
5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
There are a few non-profits in my region that work to coordinate volunteers who educate elementary students. However, these lessons involve lecture, reading, or drawing. I am using a computer simulation which the digital natives find more engaging. Students have been able to use Operation Sustain to take lessons from the game into their daily lives. Moreover, these education outreach programs tend to educate students of communities that would ordinarily support climate change legislation, whereas the students of more conservative areas need to be taught the science without bias.
6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
I have personally engaged with over 200 elementary students by traveling to schools in Washington. I have also been able to impact approximately 500 by providing my educational resources to students across America. I worked with the national organization, Code for Charity to connect with representatives around America who used my curriculum to teach students at their schools. With the quiz data I have from the students I have taught, I have found that Operation Sustain was effective. Students performed significantly better after playing Operation Sustain and teachers constantly told us that they had never seen their students so engaged in a lesson before. The most positive outcome has been the testimony from elementary students who have said that they would be willing to make changes to their lifestyle to reduce their carbon footprint.
7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
While I have been personally involved on the local level, I want to take this project to the next level by working with more classes across America. With connections to more teachers, I can scale the project to more schools. By educating teachers, I can spread the curriculum to more students in a shorter time period. Partnering with national teaching organizations will also provide me with the opportunity to make my curriculum more visible for teachers. I am also working to get the Operation Sustain curriculum integrated into the annual curriculum for school districts. This way, all the elementary students of a specific district could use the Operation Sustain curriculum.
8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?
I previously applied and won a grant for Operation Sustain. With the money, I bought thirty devices that I used to bring the simulation to students. With additional funding, I would be able to get more devices to teach multiple classes at the same time. However, it would be more valuable for the organization to support me in teaching more classes. With the support of more schools and students around America, more teachers could have access to these curriculum resources. Connections to schools and teachers or teacher organizations would allow me scale the organization to reach more students.
9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.
I have worked with friends and family to get more people interested in reducing their carbon footprint. I have also been teaching some of my peers how to use Operation Sustain to teach other students in their areas to expand the program. In order to make the program successful, I have also been working with teacher mentors. With mentors at my high school, from local non profits and a University professor, I have been able to use the feedback of many professionals to create a high quality simulation with high quality curriculum.
I think I can engage other youth by showing them how they can use Operation Sustain to teach younger students. Connections with other youth groups would be invaluable for making my curriculum accessible to areas that are inaccessible to me. By sharing the curriculum with others, I can expand the program and involve other youth leaders to make a difference in their communities.
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?
Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?
No, I do not identify with an underrepresented community
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