IBM Launches Multiplayer Virtual Science Game

  • February 19, 2008
IBM has launched a free multiplayer online game, PowerUp (www.powerupthegame.org), challenging teenagers to help save the planet "Helios" from ecological disaster.

The game is part of IBM's TryScience initiative. The game, which can be played alone or with others, features a planet in near ecological ruin where three exciting missions for solar, wind and water power must be solved before sandstorms, floods or SmogGobs thwart the rescue.

IBM devised the 3D virtual game to engage kids and educators in engineering, energy, and diversity awareness. Online video gaming is on the rise, with kids spending greater amounts of time online in fantasy play. PowerUp aims to use kids' interest in fantasy virtual worlds to encourage them to learn about engineering principles by riding over rugged mountains in buggies to build solar towers or searching through grim junkyards to repair wind turbines.

They will also learn about energy conservation by the choices they make in completing their missions. The game also features non-player characters that represent a diverse cross-section of the population, to be role models, to encourage every young person to consider a career in engineering and to act as guides for the game.

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U.S. jobs in science, technology, engineering and math are projected to grow 22% through 2014--faster than the average at 13% with computer specialist occupations growing 30%. But, U.S. grade school students continue to lag behind other developed countries in science and math.

Along with the game, there will be classroom lesson plans associated with the energy transformation topics and an interactive module where kids can learn about 3D technologies to build virtual worlds. To ensure a safe environment, "avatars" will use phrase-based chats to interact in missions.

--Tanya Irwin

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