J2.1 Using iPads to Teach Artificial Intelligence through Meteorology

Tuesday, 8 January 2013: 3:30 PM
Room 13AB (Austin Convention Center)
Branden Thomas Katona, Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and B. Pirtle and A. McGovern

Although younger generations are increasingly technologically proficient, few children appreciate the extraordinary potential of computers for solving complex problems. Children are seldom exposed to computer applications outside of mundane day-to-day computing tasks, such as browsing the Internet and playing video games. The objective of this project is to expose children to other interesting and useful applications of technology in a fun and exciting way. Specifically, an interactive iPad game highlighting the use of artificial intelligence in a meteorological domain was developed. The target audience for this game is children in kindergarten through sixth grade. Due to the technical complexity of the topics being explored and the relatively young age of the target audience, a game is an especially powerful mechanism for education. Due to its prevalence and ease-of-use, Apple's iPad was chosen as the target platform. The game, titled Storm Evader, requires players to route planes around thunderstorms and avoid turbulence in order to enhance passenger comfort. Each game level is derived from actual severe weather outbreaks, which occurred between June 2011-April 2012. In order to provide concrete examples of artificial intelligence, the player will be given a suggested route around the turbulence using the A* algorithm, as well as a forecast of the reflectivity using the Rapid Update Cycle model. The player is scored on how effectively the planes avoid the thunderstorms and the total length of the flights. Consequently, in order to maximize their scores, the players must successfully incorporate the information provided by artificial intelligence into their planned routes. In this way the players are exposed to the concept of using artificial intelligence to aid in decision-making. Storm Evasion will be demonstrated at the National Weather Festival in Norman, OK on November 3, 2012 and Weather Fest at AMS. Information will be gathered on the approximate age of the players, gender, and general impressions of Storm Evasion.
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