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Impact on Science Education

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Eco game prototype

Status: Completed (June–December 2014)


The Eco prototype was an online educational game designed to be incorporated into middle school science classrooms. Students enter a shared online world (think Minecraft) that features a simulated ecosystem of plants and animals. They soon learn that their actions affect the surrounding ecosystem—possibly causing permanent changes (pollution, climate change, species extinction). Within Eco, students cooperate to build a civilization, balancing the health of the environment with the progress of their society. To succeed, they must measure, model, and analyze the underlying ecosystem simulation, advocating their findings to their classmates and making decisions as a group to pass laws and complete public projects. Only through cooperation and science-based decision making can students succeed in preventing the destruction of their environment.

Collaborators and Funding

Impact on Science Education staff partnered with Strange Loop Games, a game development company in Seattle, Washington, to create a prototype of the digital game Eco. Our staff secured funding through two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants with the U.S. Department of Education's research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences for Phase I ($149,833, 6 months, Award No. EDIES14C0044) and Phase II ($899,871, 2 years, Award No. EDIES15C0028). Impact on Science Education staff performed testing and research, provided science and education content expertise, and assisted in designing the prototype. Since the beginning of Phase II of the project, Strange Loop Games has been developing the game independently.