2.4 Storm Lab: Teaching Kids that Air Masses Drive the Weather Using Serious Games

Monday, 11 January 2016: 2:00 PM
Room 353 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Andrea Balfour, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and T. Davis and A. McGovern

As society realizes the importance of science education, more and more pressure is placed on teachers to create curriculums that adequately teach students about the subjects involved. In order to help teachers meet these education standards with interactive materials that create a deeper understanding of the Earth's weather, we have created Storm Lab. Storm Lab is a serious (educational) video game which has been designed to teach students about large scale weather patterns that occur over North America. This design is centered around Next Generation Science Standard MS-ESS2-5, which states that students should collect data showing that the motions and interactions of different air masses results in changing weather conditions.

In Storm Lab, players are encouraged to create specific weather events at multiple areas across the continental United States simultaneously, showing players that severe weather is often the result of large scale systems. To adjust the strength and timing of these systems, players are able to adjust atmospheric variables of air masses such as temperature, humidity, and pressure differences. Once users are satisfied with their adjustments, they are able to see how different masses of air interact and what sort of weather results. This style of gameplay allows users to investigate “what if?” scenarios and encourages player creativity while keeping scenarios realistic by balancing the parameters that users can change.

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